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anthony clark reverse grip bench press

Anthony Clark Reverse Grip Bench Press

Below is an article about the ergonomic "reverse grip bench press" that was originally published in an Ironman Magazine.

I haven't been able to locate the exact issue, but if you have a copy, let me know! I'd love to see the pictures that were included in this article.

I've bolded and highlighted parts that I thought were interesting and important:


The Reverse Grip Bench Press

By Joseph M. Horrigan

Soft Tissue Center

How much do you lift?” echoes the ever-present question around the gym. There’s no need to specify the movement, of course. Everyone knows what it is. The lift is the bench press, and it is undoubtedly the most popular weight-training exercise in America today.

The bench press is used by recreational trainees as the bench mark of their achievement. Powerlifters use it in competition; football players, track and field athletes, hockey players and most other athletes use it in their supplementary training. Unfortunately, too many coaches give this lift too much emphasis and too much priority over other, more appropriate movements for their athletes’ specific sports.

As a result all this bench pressing has led to many injury patterns. In fact, the bench press is perhaps the greatest source of upper-body injuries for weight trainees. The most common site of bench-press-related problems is the shoulder, where the possible injuries include strains and tears of the rotator cuff, various forms of tendinitis, bursitis, impingement and bone spur formation, labral tears, and shoulder instability. These injuries occur due to excessive demand on the shoulder in one or more of the following circumstances:

  1. Pushing the weight - lifting too much when you’re not ready for it.

  2. Not enough recovery - lifting heavy weight too frequently.

  3. Too much volume - too many sets and reps using heavy weights.

  4. Lack of periodization - not cycling the use of heavy weights.

  5. Poor lifting technique.

When a trainee incurs shoulder pain, the first line of defense in a long line of training changes is to drop barbell bench presses from his or her routine and substitute dumbbell benches. I’ve discussed the typical scenario of these training changes in previous columns, but to recap, the trainee usually ends up dropping behind-the-neck presses, bench presses, dips, pullovers and behind-the neck pulldowns. Sometimes dumbbell inclines are tolerable, but frequently they are not. The chest and shoulder exercises that are left include some form of light dumbbell flyes or cable flyes, laterals and pulldowns to the front. Does this seem familiar? Ask the workout veterans at your gym or health club what movements they don’t do anymore and see if this list isn’t identical to theirs.

If you really enjoy the bench press and/or moving heavy weight, there may be a viable alternative to the common bench press. For other trainees this movement may prove to be a valuable supplement to your workouts.

The reverse grip bench press is a rarely performed exercised, but it is a useful training tool. It gained some attention a years ago when the Barbarian Brothers, David and Peter Paul, were using it. David performed a reverse-grip bench of 550 pounds at a bodyweight of 264 lbs. You may have seen him do it, as he performed it on several television shows. Recently, Superheavyweight powerlifter Anthony Clark lifted 804 pounds for one rep in the reverse-grip bench press at a meet, and his bodyweight is approximately 320 to 330 pounds.

Powerlifter Steve Miller, Ed.D., of Shreveport, Louisiana, demonstrates the reverse grip bench press on these pages. Steve is a world-class lifter whose accomplishments include a bronze medal at the ’78 World Championships, first place at the ’78 Pan-Am Championships, and a victory in the 220-pound class at the Hawaiian Record Breakers Meet, as well as being designated Outstanding Lifter in 21 meets. He managed to obtain his masters degree and doctorate in education while working and competing on a world-class level, and his competition personal bests include a 770-pound squat, a 523 bench (without a bench press shirt) and a 760 deadlift.

Figure 1 shows Steve with the reverse grip on the bar. In Figure 2 the bar is lowered to the bottom position. Please note the low placement on the chest. Figure 3 illustrates the top lockout position of this movement.

The reverse grip bench press has its advantages and disadvantages. One of the key pluses is the fact that many trainees who experience shoulder pain while performing regular-grip bench presses can often eliminate the pain by using the reverse grip. This may be possible by the unique manner in which the movement is executed.

The reverse grip bench press is performed in a position that involves more lateral, or external, rotation of the shoulder than the regular bench press. This lateral rotation may help to keep the head of the humerus, the ball of the ball-and-socket shoulder joint, stable in the socket because two key muscles in the rotator cuff, the muscles that keep the shoulder stable, are lateral rotators. Therefore, this laterally rotated position helps the rotator cuff do its job.

In addition, the head of the humerus is in a position to move a little more freely in the shoulder joint, which in itself may make the shoulder more comfortable and stronger when you do the reverse-grip press. Before he received treatment, David Paul was unable to perform the regular-grip bench press due to shoulder pain, but he could do a reverse-grip press of 550 pounds. This was confusing to many people. Obviously, the shoulder could withstand the stress of that much weight so the damage in the shoulder could not be that severe, yet the pain caused by the regular grip was too much for him to do the movement. The reverse-grip gave him a stronger shoulder position. Once David’s shoulder was properly treated, he was able to perform the regular-grip press with 520 pounds for five reps (using a touch-and-go technique).

Many trainees who have tried the reverse grip bench press have noted this same effect. The lack of or the lessened pain enables them to again perform the beloved bench press or use the heavier weights that they toiled so many years to work up to.

Steve Miller and other powerlifters have found the reverse grip bench press to be a valuable training tool even though they don’t have shoulder pain. For Steve it is a natural movement and so specifically an accessory training lift to the competition bench press that he always includes it in his workouts. His deltoids and triceps have responded well to the reverse-grip press, and it helps give him the initial drive off his chest when he performs the big lifts in competition.

Steve noted that there is a natural arc of the movement in the initial blast from the bottom position. “It is more explosive and uses more than just the triceps,” he added. “It is a strength-development movement. I advise trainees to [use exercises that are] as close as possible to the bench when trying to [improve their] bench.”

To a slight extent the advantage of this movement becomes a disadvantage. The reverse grip bench press primarily recruits the deltoids, the clavicular heads of the pectoralis major and the triceps. The laterally rotated position and the performance style in which you keep your elbows fairly close to the sides of your chest do not place a great deal of stretch or stress on the lower and middle portions of the pectoralis major. Therefore, the reverse-grip press doesn’t add much to pec development. This is not a problem for many trainees, however.

I’ve spoken with hundreds of trainees who are not bodybuilders but who enjoy doing the bench press and lifting heavy weights. What they tell me is that the relative development of the deltoids, upper pecs and triceps is of little or no importance to them. You may also feel this way. Other athletes may have shoulder pain from the trauma of their respective sports, and they may find this lift to be a suitable training tool for giving them the power and stability they need without significant shoulder problems.

If you are a bodybuilder, you may find that this lift can still enable you to lift heavier weights while giving you the added thickness in the shoulder girdle that you may desire or lack. You will, of course, have to add other forms of chest training to target the bulk of the pectoralis major, but don’t get carried away with too many sets or with the hallucination that each exercise is hitting a tiny aspect of a particular muscle. Isolation is a great topic on paper and in academic debate, but it is very difficult to achieve.

The reverse grip bench press does require some precautions, however. This grip position makes it very difficult to take the barbell off the bench press rack by yourself. The reverse-grip press is a movement that has tremendous power in the bottom position coming off your chest, and the most difficult part of the lift is the lockout position. You may find the first two-thirds to three-quarters of the lift to be surprisingly easy, while the top one-quarter to one-third seems to change gears. This is why it’s so difficult to take the weight off the rack.

Do not stress your elbows by trying to lift the bar out of the rack repeatedly. Get a spotter to give you a liftoff or use a power rack and set the supports an inch or two from the top. If you use a power rack, slide your body up the bench a little more than you are accustomed to, and this will give you added leverage to take the weight off the rack.

Note also that the movement of the bar is different from that of the regular-grip bench press. The placement of the bar is lower on your chest than you may be used to. You must place it lower. Never attempt to touch the bar high on your chest when doing a reverse grip bench press. Doing so will cause you to lose control of the bar because you’ll be beyond the effective range of the deltoids. When this happens, your triceps will take the brunt of the load, putting more weight on them than they are capable of stopping. The weight will crash down, and you’ll have a serious injury. So no matter what the so-called gym experts tell you, when doing this lift you should never place the bar high on your chest or near your neck.

The upward movement will feel strange at first. If you’re accustomed to regular-grip bench presses with high chest placement, the arc of the reverse-grip variation will feel as if you’re pressing over your abdomen (even though you aren’t), but do not press the bar over your face as you may do a regular-grip bench.

Note in Figure 3 that Steve is in the top lockout position and the bar is locked out over his shoulder, which is a straight support position. A medium-grip is all that’s required. A wider grip on this movement may put too much stress on your wrists and elbows, and it won’t accomplish that much more. A narrow grip isn’t necessary either, however. You’ll soon find out how much work your triceps can do on this exercise when you’re using a medium-width grip.

If you are new to the reverse grip bench press, begin with a very light weight so that you may easily adapt tot he new movement. Don’t worry about it, as the weight will climb quickly enough, but when it does, you’ll have the balance to be able to get into a new groove.

Author’s note: Steve Miller, EdD is retired from competitive powerlifting.

Originally published in IRONMAN Magazine

Updated by author February 2004


Joseph Horrigan, DC, DACBSP, CSCS

Soft Tissue Center at DISC

13160 Mindanao Way

Suite 300

Marina Del Rey, CA 90292

Voice: (310) 279-4355

Fax: (310) 279-4394


These days, I typically eat 2 hard boiled eggs in the morning for breakfast (along with a cup of tea with whey protein, and a cup of coffee with whey protein).

However, peeling hard boiled eggs is a huge pain in the ass.

At least it used to be.

I can’t recall making hard boiled eggs myself, so naturally, I thought the process would be super simple and I would master it in no time. I was wrong, and ate a lot of egg shells in the process.

What I would end up doing is boiling the eggs, and when it came time to peel them I would make a huge mess.

Often times when I attempt to remove the egg shells, parts of the shell would come off, but the egg shell membrane would be intact. If I tried to take off the shell and membrane, I'd take off a good chunk of egg white along with it. I would either try to eat the little bits of egg white that was attached to the removed egg shells, or just throw it in the garbage out of frustration.

Sometimes, once I got frustrated enough from trying to peel off the eggshells, is put what is left of the hardboiled eggs and either eat or spit out any of the shells I put in my mouth!

So after getting sick of eating egg shells, naturally I searched online for a way to make “easy peel hard boiled eggs”.

I've tried a variety of different methods online that claim to produce "easy peel hard boiled eggs", ranging from:

  • Adding vinegar
  • Adding baking soda
  • Using a potato masher to pre-crack the eggs
  • Room temperature eggs first
  • Cold eggs
  • Using fresh eggs
  • Using older eggs
  • Ice bath after boiling
  • Put the eggs in the water before boiling
  • Put the eggs in the water after the water starts boiling
  • etc, etc.

Using the methods I’ve found, there wasn’t anything that could produce easy to peel hard boiled eggs consistently. The keyword here is consistently.

Some methods would work better than others, but not all the time.

After much experimentation and a lot of egg cartons, I’ve combined some of the methods and come up with the least pain-in-ass way to consistently make hard boiled eggs that's super easy to peel!

All you need is a pot, eggs, and a fork.

Here’s how you do it:

Steps *

1. Boil Water First, Then Put In The Eggs *


Fill the pot with water so that the eggs can be fully submerged.

Turn the stove on high, and allow the water to boil. Do not put the eggs in yet!

Wait until the water boils, then put in the eggs. I normally take the eggs right out of the refrigerator and put it into the boiling water. I’ve only had 1 instance where an egg cracked on me. This can be done with room temperature eggs as well.

Turn the stove to low-medium so that the eggs don’t end up bouncing all over the place and crack prematurely.

Set the timer for 10 minutes.

2. Pre-Crack Eggs With A Fork *


Once the timer is up, turn off the heat. Leave the pot on the stove, though.

Use a the edge of the fork to make small cracks in the egg. You can also use a spoon, but I find I have better control with the flat fork than a curved spoon.

Then, use the bottom (flat part of the fork) and gently press down to create more cracks. Do can press and roll the egg. The more cracks the better. Be careful not to squish the egg!

3. Immediately Cool Down *


Take the eggs out and submerge it in a container full of ice. You can add some cold water to make sure that the eggs are submerged.

At this point you can add more cracks to the egg shells if it’s not cracked enough.

Stick the container in the refrigerator for at least 10-15 minutes.

4. Shake! *


Now, with the eggs still in the container, give it a good shake.

The shaking process will loosen the hard boiled egg from the egg shell membrane, making it easy to remove.

Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you may even shake the egg shells right off!

5. Peel The Egg Shells (With ONE HAND) *


Removing the shells at this point should be super easy. If the above steps are done properly, the egg shell should come off along with that clear film lining an eggshell (egg shell membrane).

In fact, it can be done with one hand!

Rinse any remaining shells off with water.

15 Second Video Showing All Steps *

Here's what it looks like altogether, compressed in 15 seconds:

There you have it, a consistent way to make hard boiled eggs that’s easy to peel.


Enjoy your egg-citing new gainz.


First, a warning:

Don’t try this at home! If you do, I am not responsible for any injuries you may incur, blah blah blah.

OK, now that that’s out of the way, I’m going to show you how I set up a DIY power rack safety suspension strap system to catch the bar in case of a failed rep.

In my power rack, there are metal sabre style safety pins that insert in the holes through the front and toward the back. Here’s what it looks like:


They have saved my life many, many times. They allow me to bench press heavy alone without a human spotter, and safely receive the barbell whenever I miss a rep for the bench press and the squat.

They’re more reliable and stronger than multiple human spotters, capable of supporting 1000 lb (according to the manual that’s written in Engrish).

However, the constant metal-on-metal impact of the Olympic bar and the metal safety pins left dents on the pins itself, and wore away some of the knurling on the bar.


I’ve though about purchasing Spud Inc suspension straps, but I haven’t found this item available in Canada.

However, I’ve seen many videos and pictures of powerlifters squatting in the mono-rack with what appears to be some sort of heavy duty strap looped to the top of the rack in order to save a missed lift.

Something like this:


So, out of curiosity and paranoia, I’ve decided to put together my own!

Here are the materials I used:

Materials *

Soft Ties *

Normally used for hauling motorcyles (or something like that), they’re basically really strong webbing with loops on the ends.


It looks as though this might be good for a weightlifting strap.

Also, it can probably be used as a means of attaching single arm cable handles onto a chin up bar, for joint-friendly chin ups and pull ups.

The other alternative was to use axle straps, which are thicker, stronger, and have a metal ring on either ends of the strap.


But the soft ties were cheap (<$5 per pair), and so far it’s doing the job.

Quick Link *

These are cheap and attaches the chain and other items onto stuff. A bit of a pain in the ass to open and close, since you need to unscrew and res-crew all the time #firstworldproblems


Carabiner *


I’m using the Black Diamond Oval carabiner which came with the Rogue Cannonball grips. They’re about $7 when purchased separately.

It has a “Closed Gate Strength” of 18 kN (4046 lbf). So errr…I’m going to assuming this is pretty strong.

Chain *


5/16” thick chain from Homedepot. The label says: Safe workload - 1,900 lb.

Tree Saver Strap *



2” wide and 6’ long strap made of polyester with a break strength of 10,000 lb.

For some reason, the straps I’ve found online are mostly yellow in color. I have seen others that are neon green, orange, and blue, but yellow is the most common (and in my case, the cheapest). I would have liked it if it were blue to match my rack, but safety and price is more important to me than strap aesthetics.

The Weakest Link *

As they say, a chain is only as strong as the weakest link, and with my DIY safety strap setup, the weakest link is probably the soft ties.

It’s only 1” wide with a working load limit of 830 lb. And I’m not sure if this is for one of the straps, or two!

Eventually, I might double up on these soft ties since they’re cheap anyways, or upgrade to axle straps which are typically wider and stronger.

If you plan on setting up a DIY safety strap system for your home gym, and you’re super paranoid, you could go balls to the walls and get:

  • thick chain
  • wider tree saver straps
  • axle straps instead of soft ties

Notes On Stretchiness *

Spud Inc suspension straps is made of nylon of resembles a recovery strap more than a tow strap or tree saver strap.

From my extensive researching, I’ve found out that generally nylon webbing stretches 20-30% while polyester stretches 5-15% under a 2500 lb load. There’s no way I’m going to test that out to find out for certain, but it’s probably safe to say that polyester webbing (like the stuff in the tree saver strap I’m using) is going to be stiffer than the Spud Inc suspension straps or nylon polyester straps.

I’m not 100% certain about what the soft ties are made of, but based on descriptions of other brands, it’s probably nylon.

I think the stretchy properties of the nylon Spud Inc suspension straps would be helpful if the bar was suddenly dropped from a high distance to better absorb the impact and prevent any chances of the bar bending, but I could be wrong.

I’m sure the metal chains I have won’t stretch with any loads I’m using.

The Set Up *

Here’s how this is all set up:

The soft ties (4) loop around the top of the rack.

To prevent these straps from sliding towards each other, it is “blocked” by the chin up bar (front) and a pair of band pegs (back).


A pair of carabiners are connected to the 2 soft ties in front, while a pair of “quick link chains” are connected to the 2 soft ties in the back. I used quick links because they were cheap, but you could use another pair of carabiners, or something else.


The tree saver strap is connected to the front, while the chain is connected to the back.

The tree saver strap connects to the chain via another pair of quick links:



Now, when set up to the right height for the squat, there’s a lot of left over chain that hangs loose. I just connect this to the carabiner to make it nice and tidy.


Adjusting The Straps *

To adjust the height of the strap, I would simply connect the quick link onto a different part of the chain.

If I wanted to use the chain to suspend the barbell, I would connect the chain on the appropriate link to get the height that I want:


Preventing The Strap From Getting Sandwiched In Between The Bar & J-Hooks *

At first when I tried squatting, the strap always got sandwiched in between the bar and j-hooks after the set. That’s because the straps and chains are aligned (more or less) with the j-hooks.

What I did was attached some of the excess chain that was dangling onto the carabiner that the tree saver strap was on . This pushed the tree saver strap to the side (towards the middle of the rack), so when re-racking the bar, the strap is automatically pushed out of the way of the j-hooks.


Some Testing *

Failed 420 lb Front Squat *

The safety strap set up was able to accept 420 lb no problem.

The drop was only a few inches.

Failed 520 lb Low Bar Squat *

No problems.

Rack Pull *

Loaded the bar up with 600 lb, followed by 620 lb.

Static Hold: 830 lb *




  • 7 x ~45 lb = 630 lb
  • 2 x ~35 lb = 70 lb
  • 2 x ~25 lb = 50 lb
  • 2 x 10 lb = 20 lb
  • 2 x 5 lb = 10 lb
  • 2 x 2.5 lb = 5 lb

785 lb in plates, and with a 45 lb bar: 830 lb.

Bar was visibly bent with most of the plates I have, and nothing snapped.

All the straps were pulled tight.

The Good Thing About A Strap Safety System *

The 2” wide tree saver straps are more bar friendly and won’t mark or damage the knurling of the bar compared to the metal safety pins.

Adjusting the height of the straps is a little less annoying than adjusting the safety pins. With my rack, the metal safety pins slides through the front towards the back. The metal-on-metal screeching noise is not something I enjoy.

Some Problems With A Strap Safety System *

The main problem with using straps as a safety system is that the lowest position of the strap will be in the middle of where the two points connect to the top of the rack.

If I do not position myself so that the bottom position of the lift is aligned with the bottom position of the straps, then the bar will end up touching the strap on the descent.

As mentioned earlier, safety straps (that I have seen used in powerlifting) are typically used when squatting in the mono-lift. With a mono-lift, you don’t need to walk out the bar when you squat, and it’s easier to align the bottom position of your squat with the bottom position of the straps.

If I am bench pressing, then I would need to adjust the position of the straps since the bottom-most point of the bench press is closer to the front of the rack compared to the squat (where it’s more in the middle). Reverse grip bench presses touches lower on the body than the regular grip bench press, and adjustments may be needed.

To be honest, I don’t like using the strap safety system for bench presses. The safety pins are already set at a perfect height so that if I fail, I can just deflate my chest and the bar will rest on the pins. With the straps, if it’s positioned even a tiny bit higher than the safety pins, the bar will hit the straps at the bottom of the bench press which can be distracting. Also, when I miss a rep, in order for me to get out from under the bar, I just roll the bar towards my feet.

When the bar is supported by the straps after a missed rep, I cannot roll the bar forward and sit up. I could push the bar towards my feet and try to sit up, but since the bar is supported on straps dangling from the top of the power rack, it would just swing back in my direct. I don’t think this would be a good idea with 400+ lb on the bar.

Other Applications *

There are a few other applications with this DIY safety suspension set up.

Chain Suspension *

Using only the chain connected to the soft ties, the bar can be suspended by the chains making it an easy way to perform overhead presses inside the rack without having to walk the bar out, or having to hear the metal-on-metal screeching when adjusting the sabre-style safety pins.

The bar will always move to middle of the chain, eliminating the need to re-adjust the position of the bar when pressing from the safety pins.

The chains can easily be adjusted for overhead lockouts and partial reps as well.

Summary *

This safety strap system will be continually tested as I train, and I’ll probably made some modifications to it over time as I see fit.

For squats, I’ll keep the existing metal safety pins in place, just in case. The straps would act as a first line of defense for a falling barbell, while the safety pins would be the backup. Also, there’s less work that way.

Again, if you want to try this out, do it at your own risk. It’s probably a good idea to have some secondary safety measures in case some piece of the safety strap system fails.

If you die somehow after setting up your own power rack safety suspension strap system, don’t come complaining to me in ghost form about how some cheap, made-in-China product broke and didn’t live up to the specifications listed on the packaging.

My home gym is my sanctuary and home office. Right now, I am nearly satisfied with the layout and the exercise equipment that I have. I can do just about everything I need to get stronger.

But I'm always looking at stuff I want to get to improve my home gym to make it more functional (PHUNG-ctional). And even though I have the basic equipment to get big and strong, there's other equipment I'd like to try out in order to improve my lifts.

I already have a wish list of "stuff I want for my home gym" written down in my mind, but I thought maybe I should put it down on paper to clarify what items I'd like to obtain, and the reasons why they would be beneficial to my basement gym, it's utility, how it would affect my overall training, and any cons involved.

So, what I have done is written one of those popular "top 10" list post!

This list serves the purpose of keeping track of the stuff I want to buy for my home gym, and maybe help people who are reading this figure out what they could get to improve their home gym.


In no particular order:

1. Front Squat Harness *


I've been attaching a pair of straps to the barbell for front squats, because the clean grip position is extremely painful on my wrists and elbows.

Although this has been working, I think I could front squat more if I had a front squat harness.

As anyone who front squats know, if your torso isn't upright for the entire lift, there's a chance of the bar slipping off your shoulders. This has happened to me many, many times.

With a front squat harness, the pegs that hold the barbell in place could prevent the bar from rolling off and save my front squat if I happen to lean forward slightly.

Also, because the metal pegs keep the barbell in place, my elbows are not required to be kept up to create a shelf for the bar to sit. I could take advantage of this freedom and pull the elbow down and back while holding onto the bar or the pegs. This would allow me to contract the shit out of my lats to assist in the front squat, possibly pushing my numbers up higher.

With a normal front squat, it's difficult, and probably impossible to force the elbows up while at the same time contracting the lats. However, lats assist in core stability, and core stability is necessary to keep the torso upright. I have a hunch that I could front squat more if I contract my lats.

Here's an Eric Cressey quote that explains this further:

"…because the arms are elevated (flexed humeri), the lats are lengthened.  This is in contrast to the back squat, where the lats can be used to aggressively pull the bar down into the upper back and help create core stability.  I firmly believe the lack of lat involvement is what accounts for the significant differences in loads one can handle in the front squat as compared to the back squat".

The extra pegs on the harness can allow me to comfortably train another squat variation that I normally hate and never do: The Zercher Squat. Supposedly Zerchers have a carry over to deadlifts, but I don't know first hand because Zerchers and painful and I never do them (ironically I'm OK with the hook grip for deadlifts).

2. Spud Choker Wrist Wraps *



For bench pressing and overhead pressing, I like to have my wrists wrapped up to ensure that they remain rigid to prevent my hands from bending backwards. I've used a few wrists wraps since I began training seriously, starting with the GASP wrist wraps (too short, not much support), Shiek (not much support, wore out quickly), Titan Max RPM (OK support, velcro wearing out) and currently using the Titan Signature Gold wrist wraps.

When I first received my Titan Signature Gold wrist wraps, they were extremely stiff and didn't have much flexibility at all. Which was great because it provided a ton of wrist support.

After almost a year of using these, they're not as stiff, are more flexible. They still provide adequate wrist support, but it's not as rock hard and painful to put on as it used to be.

The problem with conventional wrist wraps is that it will wear out over time. The repeated stretching of the elastic and fastening and unfastening of the velcro will degrade with use.

Also, it takes a little time to wrap them before every set. I like to have the wrist wraps tight, so I can't leave them on in between sets or else I'll lose circulation in my hands and they'll fall off.

I have a pair of leather wrist straps that I can leave on during the entire training session, but it only offers support when the wrists are bent backwards to a certain point.

The Spud Choker wrist wraps looks like it has similar properties to the leather wrist straps (where I can wear it during the entire session), and be able to tighten it as much as I want in order provide support for my wrists at all angles.

Because it's essentially a cuff rather than a wrap, it looks easy to tighten and un-tighten.

These wraps aren't legal in powerlifting competitions, but I could use the Spud wrist wraps for training and save the tradition elastic wrist wraps for competition. This would prolong the life of my Titan Signature Gold wraps, while saving me time from wrapping and unwrapping my wrists during training.

Win-Win, if you ask me.

3. Thinner, Whipper Multi-Purpose Olympic Bar *

The bar that I own is the B&R Bar from Rogue Fitness (review here). It's a pretty stiff bar with very little flex given the amount of weight I lift. It's 29 mm thick, which is the maximum thickness for bars in many powerlifting federations.

The federation that I compete in uses a specialty deadlift bar, which is 27 mm thin. My less-than-gigantic hands benefits from hook gripping a thinner bar for the deadlift. Even though I can hook grip a 29 mm bar, a slightly thinner bar would be nice to use. I may even miss less reps due to grip being an issue.

Also, since I'm deadlifting more often, that means I need to take the bar out of the power rack whenever I pull. Having a separate bar outside the rack would be nice, and would shave off 5 seconds from my training sessions. Multiply that by the number of training sessions where I perform exercise outside of the power rack over the course of a lifetime, and that adds up to quite a few minutes I bet!

A deadlift bar is much thinner (27 mm) and longer (roughly 7 and a half feet long), which would be great for increasing my ego and deadlift numbers, but not so great for the wallet ($590). I'm not sure if this bar would be good for lifts other than the deadlift, such as a power clean or clean and press. Additionally, this type of bar is not legal in all powerlifting federations, so if I happen to compete in those federations, this bar would not be beneficial.

I've also looked at the prices for 28 mm bars like Rogue 28 mm Training Bar which costs $442.81 CDN, and others that costs around the $350+ but that's too much I'm willing to pay.

So, with this in mind, I'm really looking for a (hopefully) thinner, multi-purpose bar that's easy on the wallet to serve as a secondary, outside-the-rack bar for lifts such as the deadlift, along with the occasional power cleans, hang cleans, and clean and presses.

The bar that looks the most appealing and fits the above criteria is this:

CAP Barbell Cap OB-86B *


There's quite a few reviews on Amazon, forums and elsewhere online and it's well received, especially for a product made by CAP barbell. The general consensus seems to be that it's a solid, all purpose barbell that is priced surprisingly low. Had I known about this bar earlier, I may have purchased this instead of the B&R bar.

It's 28.5 mm thick, which is a tiny bit thinner than the 29 mm B&R bar. It's cheap (half the price of some other 28 mm and 28.5 mm bars) and it can ship for free from Amazon.

There's no center knurling, which is fine because I won't be using this to squat on a regular basis.

It has 120,000 psi tensile strength, supposedly being able to hold up to 1200 lb according to the manufacturer's description.

It has a lower tensile strength than the B&R bar (120,000 psi vs 205,000 psi), so I'm guessing it will be a whippier bar. May be good for deadlifting.

Reading the reviews on Amazon, it looks as though this guy is using the CAP bar:

With 215 Kg (~474 lb), there doesn't appear to be much flex to the bar.

The review also said that they purchased this at $135. With the current price at $170, I'll hold off until the price drops.

4. Incline Bench *


Here's the thing with the overhead press: Your body needs to be at an incline to press efficiently and effectively.


Plenty of anonymous Internet lifters have criticized my OHP form as being a "standing incline bench press" without providing any evidence of themselves performing this mythical "strict military press" with a respectable amount of weight. I'm talking limit or near limit lifts (1RM etc) with an RPE of 9.

But here's the thing: Leaning back is necessary for the OHP. It's covered in the strength training book for beginners, "Starting Strength" on page 90 (3rd edition).

Heavy weights tend to move in a straight line. As with many lifts including the overhead press, this straight line is the imaginary line above the mid foot. You want to press along this line as close as possible and minimize any moment arms that would make the lift inefficient (which equals to a lower weight to be pressed overhead, which then equals to less gainz).

If you were to stand straight and hold a barbell across your shoulders, you could maintain this position with an empty bar. But as you put on body weight+ on the bar, you'll have a tendency to lean back slightly because the loaded barbell is situated in front of your body (in front of the mid line). To keep it balanced, naturally people want to bring the load towards the mid line. This is just holding the barbell we're talking about, and there's already an inclination to incline.

There's an obstacle in the way when you're pressing overhead. That obstacle, is your face, namely your chin and nose. You could lift your chin up or pull your face back, but along with balance the bar, you'll lean backwards slightly so that the bar is closer to the imaginary line above the mid foot. This keeps the bar in balance, and moves the face out of the way of a more vertical bar path when pressing upwards.

During the initial drive out of the bottom and at the sticking point, the muscles of the trunk need to stabilize and remain rigid so that the shoulders and arms can do it's job and press the bar overhead. If you've done any overhead pressing that's taking your body to the limit (like a 1RM or repetition max attempts), you'll know (from experience) that sometimes the bar will stall and you end up pushing yourself away from the bar. Although not ideal, it happens. Sometimes you'll recover, and sometimes you won't. In any case, you'll need strong abs to maintain and recover this position, which is an incline.

So, in order to have an efficient, mostly vertical bar path for the overhead press, you're pretty much at an incline from the start of the OHP, and during the execution of the press before lockout (that is if you push your head through and straighten out your body so that the bar is directly above the scapula and midfoot).

It's going to look like this, more or less:


The so-called strict military press, when correctly performed (let's be "strict" in keeping the "strict" military press true to it's original form and not deviate from the original description here), with heels together, no torso movement from start to finish, with the bar needed to be pressed out and around the face before pulling back towards the top of the head and pressing up (i.e. a curved bar path, bigger moment arm) is not an efficient way to press heavy objects overhead.

Here's what it would look like:

press two[1]

Good luck pressing 300+ lb with an inefficient bar path, kids. (Note: I'm sure there's a monster-human hybrid out there who would be able to press like this for 300+ lb, but they're probably not at their limit, i.e. not 1RM and/or RPE @9).



Back to the incline bench.

After reading the training methods of old school lifters who used to clean and press back when it was a contested lift in the Olympics, a common accessory movement was the steep incline bench press.

Setting the bench to a high incline and performing an incline bench press would be a good accessory movement to the overhead press, mainly because the OHP is done with a slight incline to begin with. I could take the "standing and stabilizing my core" out of the equation and focus on pressing at similar angles.

I could even perform a seated shoulder press with the bench set at 90 degrees, but the bar path and body position during this lift would have less resemblance to the OHP (because the bar would have to be maneuverered around the face first before pressing upwards). Note: most seated shoulder presses I have seen are set with a slight incline. If the seat is at 90 degrees, usually the lifter would sit on the edge of the seat, creating an incline with their torso before shoulder pressing.

Although most incline benches can adjust to multiple angles, I'm really only interested in a high incline in order to improve my overhead press. I'm not really interested in "hitting my chest from multiple angles" for "maximum pec development" or anything like that, so it's utility is low for me.

I could use it as a chair to sit on though.

5. Tree Saver Straps *


From what I understand, a "tree saver strap" is a super strong strap with loops at the end. The intended use of this strap is to wrap it around a tree, and then attach some sort of cable to it in order for a vehicle (like a Jeep) to pull itself up using a device called a winch. Or something like that.

I'm assuming, because it's made of polyester, it's supposed to cause less damage to a tree than say...a chain. Hence the name "tree saver".

But I have no intention of using this to save trees.

My purpose is to save myself (from dying!) and save the bar from any scratches and dings from missed reps.

Essentially, it will be used as a suspension safety system inside my power rack.

Spud Inc sells suspension safety straps (which basically looks like tree saver straps attached to a chain), but I can't find this product in Canada. I've seen a few videos of equipped powerlifters squatting inside of a monorack using a set up that looks like a pair of tree saver straps attached to chains on either end of the barbell being used as barbell safeties.


With the straps in place, combined with my current chain safety set up, I can:

  • Perform rack pulls inside the rack without the bar slamming into the metal safety pins
  • Partial reps for squat, bench press, and deadlifts
  • Dead stop/Anderson squats/bench presses that's set slightly higher than the height of my safety pins
  • Use the straps as a 1st line of defense for saving my life during missed reps, while the existing metal safety pins would be the 2nd line of defense, in case the safety suspension system snaps somewhere. The bar would be landing on the polyester strap, and I'd bet this would cause less damage to the bar than a metal rod.

They're about $10 each (for a 2" thick, 6' long tree saver strap) and have a "break strength" of 20,000 lb. Pretty sure I won't be using even 10% of that weight in the near future.

Here’s a blog post about someone making safety straps in a power rack with similar parts.

UPDATE: Bought these straps, and have a DIY power rack safety suspension strap system set up.

6. Squat Handles *

I’ve temporarily quit performing low bar squats, mainly because of the elbow tendonitis I experience for a few days afterwards. Sometimes I even get shoulder pain that shoots down my arms, and for some reason saps my arm strength to 50%, making any pressing or pulling movements weak and painful.

I’m currently focused on front squats (with straps) and high bar squats. There’s less pressure on the shoulders, elbows and wrists with the high bar squat compared to the low bar squat, but there’s still a little bit of stress.

I’ve high bar squatted using hanging onto straps, which eliminates the stress, but it’s not as stable as grasping the bar with your hands.

Something along the lines of Dave Draper’s Top Squat device would allow me to high bar squat while holding onto a pair of handles. Here’s a demonstration of how it works:

Unfortunately, it’s no longer being sold on their website.

Another alternative is to construct some sort of handles that can attach to the bar, similar to what this guy did:


Or this guy:

Now, the issue with these squat handles is that it can only be used in a high bar squat (from what I understand).

I did come across someone making a pair of handles specifically for the low bar squat, which is great because it’s this particular squat variation where i get most of the shoulder/elbow/wrist pain from.

It’s looks pretty sweet, and it looks like it would work. It would be nice if the handles could rotate somehow (so the hands can be slightly angled based on the lifter’s preference).

UNFORTUNATELY, it doesn’t look like these are in production or being sold anywhere! Which really sucks, because I’m not the only person who experiences shoulder, elbow and wrist pain from low bar squatting. I’m sure people would probably buy the shit out of this product.



7. Mini Bands *


What I want to do is try out and progressively train are reverse band overhead presses. I already have full sized bands from Rogue Fitness, however they're awkward to set up and use for the overhead press. They're too long, and probably have too much tension. I've looped them around the top of my rack in many different configurations, but the tension is not consistent between both bands at either ends of the bar.

Mini bands are more likely the correct length and easier to set up for the purposes of overhead pressing, mainly because the bar starts and ends close to the top of my rack.

I could even use the mini bands for the bench press by attaching it to the bottom of the rack and to the bar. But I prefer reverse bands because I can figure out more accurately the weight at the top and bottom of the lift.

8. Deadlift Jacking Thingy *

Using axle stands as a deadlift jack works, but they wreck the knurling on the bar.

Lately, I’ve been rolling the innermost plate on top of a 2.5 lb plate. This works as well, but it chipped off a lot of paint from the 2.5 lb plate, leaving paint chips everywhere and an un-aesthetic looking Olympic plate.

I could get a mini deadlift jack with some sort of protective plastic, like the Rogue Mini Deadlift Bar Jack.


But a cheaper option would be this deadlift wedge from

Looks like it would be easy to use and doesn’t look as though it would damage anything. Also, it’s pretty cheap ($9.99, and $6.99 for shipping).

Alternatively, I could use roll the innermost plate on top of a rubber paver tile I have lying around. I’ll try this the next time I pull.

9. Treadmill For A DIY Treadmill Desk *


I should probably do some cardio, for fat loss/heart health/recovery/stuff like that. But the thing is, I don't want to spend extra time doing extra workouts throughout the week.

So, a solution I came up with in my head is to do some sort of cardio while I'm doing something else I'm currently doing in my existing daily routine.

My home office is located inside my home gym in the basement. I currently have my desk (which is an easily adjustable Ikea Jerker desk) set up as a standing desk, but I do a lot of sitting in a drafting chair. But, if I got a treadmill and set up a treadmill desk, I could walk (which is cardio) whenever I'm doing anything in front of my computer.

If I'm currently spending 5 hours per day sitting (hypothetically, I haven't actually measured this), and replace that with 5 hours of light walking, I'm going to guess it'll be better in the long run for my overall health. Probably could even get more gains (or loss) if I wear a weighted vest for this.

I've read a few articles about people's experiences with a treadmill desk, and they appear to be mostly positive. But I'll really have to try it out for myself to see if it works for me. The good thing is, people are always getting rid of their old treadmills on Kijiji/Craigslist, so it won't cost much to set up and test out a treadmill desk.

Here are some articles about using a treadmill desk:

And here are some tutorials I'll probably use to set up a DIY treadmill desk:


10. Pegboard To Hang Stuff *


I have a lot of exercise equipment lying all over the place in my home gym.

Some of them are hung on the pegs of my rack, others on nails on the wall, and a lot of stuff on the floor. It's very unorganized an not very aesthetic.

I've seen pictures and videos of other people's home gyms, and it looks like a peg board (a regular peg board that's often seen in garages to hang and organize tools, not the ones used for climbing) would be a good solution to organize stuff that can be easily hung up (like straps, skipping ropes, wraps, chains, etc).

This guy even used a peg board to hang bars.

Summary *

In my future blog posts and videos, you may see one, some, or all of the items above in my home gym.

I’ll try to be good this year. Santa, I hope you’re reading this.

2014 has come to a close and Chinese New Year is just around the corner (Thursday, February 19, 2015), which will be there year of the GOAT!


2014 Goals – Recap *

I got 4 out of 6 goals I set out for myself for 2014:

Low Bar Squat: 550 lb to 600 lb (+50 lb increase) *

High Bar Squat: 520 lb to 550 lb (+30 lb increase) *

Front Squat: 420 lb to 455 lb (+35 lb increase) *

Reverse Grip Bench Press: 400 lb to 440 lb (+40 lb increase) *

Overhead Press: 265 lb to 280 lb+ (+15 lb increase) *

Deadlift: 570 lb to 600 lb+ (+30 lb increase) *

Note: the first deadlift training session this year was in APRIL.

I revised my lifting goals after breaking a few of my initial goals:

  1. High Bar Squat: 585 lb
  2. Front Squat: 475 lb
  3. Overhead Press: 300 lb
  4. Bench Press (Regular Grip): 405 lb

Out of these updated, more difficult goals, I only achieved the front squat of 475 lb.

In total, I hit 197 PRs this year based on a count of Youtube videos where the title shows a "RM" (repetition maximum). Not bad!

Also, looking at the number of PRs I completed over the year, the 2 lifts that really stick out for me are the low bar squat and deadlift. These are the 2 lifts that I have trained the least frequent in.

I suspect that the progress made on these lifts were supported by high bar and front squats. There's definitely a carry-over effect (at least in my case) of the more torso-erect, greater ROM style of squatting to the low bar squat and deadlift. But I still needed to train those 2 lifts just to get used to the movement again in order to utilize my full power (for low bar squats, needed to get into the grove again since the movement is different than high bar squat, and for deadlifts, I needed to build up grip strength and pain tolerance for the hook grip). I mentioned this before, but ideally in order to improve on these lifts, higher frequency is warranted. Still made OK gains though.

Get a 1500 total in a meet (not sure what competition I'll enter yet. All the ones I'm aware of are a little too far for my liking) *

Didn't do a full meet this year. There wasn't a full powerlifting meet being held locally like last year, but I did enter a bench only meet in the Summer, where I benched 400 lb in competition.

Get more articles published *

Not as many as I had wanted. Actually the problem with this goal is that it wasn't even specific in terms of number of articles.

I did publish a few (only listing the ones that have meatier content):

  1. How To Front Squat with Straps on T-Nation – January
  2. My Take on Supplements - June
  3. One Exercise Per Day™ - July
  4. How I Hit PRs All The Time And How You Can Too - July
  5. One Weird OHP Trick - August
  6. A Very Important Letter To My 14 Year Old Self – September

Get more jacked *

Well, I'm 220 lb now, without even trying. I think I was about 210 lb last year.

One Word Picture To Describe 2014 *


3 Greatest Things That Happened In The Past Year *

  1. Became a DAD!
  2. Figured out how to consistently get a little bit stronger everyday without expending too much time or energy.
  3. I learned a couple of weird tricks that helped me lift more weight. Specially, in the overhead press and squat.

Goals For 2015 *

  1. Low Bar Squat: 585 lb to 620 lb (+35 lb increase)
  2. High Bar Squat: 570 lb to 600 lb (+30 lb increase)
  3. Front Squat: 475 lb to 500 lb (+25 lb increase)
  4. Reverse Grip Bench Press: 420 lb to 440 lb (+20 lb increase)
  5. Bench Press: 390 lb to 410 lb (+20 lb increase)
  6. Deadlift: 600 lb to 660 lb (+60 lb increase)
    • I'll need to deadlift more frequently if I want to reach 660 lb.
  7. Sumo Deadlift: 550 lb to 600 lb (+50 lb increase)
  8. Overhead Press: 295 lb to 315 lb (+20 lb increase)
  9. Write a book and publish it on Amazon (“Muscle Sphere Secrets”, “One Weird Trick To ______”, or something else).

I also want to maintain a bodyweight of 220 lb. Don't want to get too big or else it'll be hard to cut to 90 Kg (~198 lb) for a powerlifting competition, and I'll need to buy new clothes too.

Somehow, I feel I'm destined to become a muscle sphere if I keep making gainz, whether I like it or not.

Anyway, see you next year!