Archives For Bret Contreras

Man, I was hoping to get 3 PRs this week, but only got 2:

Bench Press: 380 lb (1RM)

So I got a 380 lb bench press this past Friday!

This is a +5 lb PR, and one of my goals for 2013!

Up from 355 lb at the start of the year, which is a +25 lb increase in a little over 4 months. Not bad!

Now I just need to work on my squat, deadlift and overhead press, which have a combined increase of 0 lb in my 1 RM so far this year 🙁

Front Squat: 330 lb (1RM)

On Tuesday I worked my way up to a 330 lb 1 rep max on the front squat!

I did this mainly because I figured out how to make front squats more comfortable.

Hated front squats before simply because my anterior delts and collar bones can't take the pressure of a loaded bar. It's very painful for me and I would always end up with bruises on my shoulder and collar bone area.

Also I don't have the flexibility in my shoulders and wrists to maintain the rack position.

I put on a pair of Fat Gripz to the bar to act as padding. This took care of the bar-digging-into-shoulder-and-collarbone pain.

And I used a pair of straps to hold onto which eliminated the need to put myself in a double Americana arm lock with the bar in the rack position.

I don't normally do front squats, but I'm going to add this in the mix mainly to build my quads and my erectors (in my back). Also, I read that Dan Green uses front squats to build his back squat. He's a pretty strong guy, so it's gotta be good!

My lower and middle of my back was pretty sore the next day, especially the left side, which I think affected my OHP...

Overhead Press: 260 lb (MISSED)

Attempted a 260 lb OHP on Wednesday, which would have been a 5 lb PR, but I couldn't lock out my left arm:

At first I thought the issue was my left triceps, but it wasn't sore at all and felt fine. I think the issue was my core wasn't stable enough and because of this, I didn't have a solid base to push off of. This was probably due to the front squats done on the previous day. Lower back and middle of my back was very sore, and somehow this resulted in some instability.

I did mostly extend my right arm, so I'm pretty sure I'm capable to pressing 260 lb with both arms. But extending my right arm while not extending my left caused my body to slightly bend to the left side which made the back pain a little worse. It's feeling fine now, so I may try again next week.

Thoughts About Upcoming Meet Openers & Attempts

There's a CPF meet coming up in June, and I've given some thought to what my openers, 2nd and 3rd attempts would be.

I'm going with the strategy of opening with a 2RM or 3RM (or a weight that I use for my "over warm-up" set), 2nd attempt to beat a 1 rep max, and 3rd attempt to beat my 1RM again.

So it looks like this:

1st Attempt2nd Attempt3rd Attempt
Squat210 Kg (462 lb)235 Kg (517 lb)240 Kg (528 lb)
Bench Press160 Kg (352 lb)170 Kg (374 lb)175 Kg (385 lb)
Deadlift230 Kg (506 lb)250 Kg (550 lb)255 Kg (561 lb)
Total600 Kg (1320 lb)655 Kg (1441 lb)670 Kg (1474 lb)

This could change in the future, but I think this is doable. I would have to be 100% and injury free.

I still need to mail in my application form, so I think I'll do that this week.

Also, I need to really work on my squat and start deadlifting again. I haven't deadlifted in a month due to an injury, but I have been doing 1 arm suitcase deadlifts to maintain pain tolerance during the hook grip, and hit my obliques and other muscles on the side of my trunk.

I should also review the rules and make sure they allow the reverse grip bench press and the performance enhancing Three Wolf Moon shirt...

Anyway, check this out:

Stuff You Should Read

  1. Heavy Partials for Size and Strength by Greg Nuckols
  2. Hip Thrust & Glute Science and Maximizing Power Production by Bret Contreras

Let's see what happened this past week...

Bench Press PRs

I haven't attempted a 1RM on the bench for over a month (last time being January 18, 2013, where I benched 360 lb).

This past Friday I managed to get a 365 lb bench press. It felt really easy, so I slapped on another 5 lb (actually removed all the smaller plates and put on a pair of 25 lb plates) and attempted 370 lb.

Got it!

It felt a bit harder, but not to the point where I felt like I was struggling with the weight and had doubts on whether I would press it up or not.

Only 30 more puny pounds to go until I'm a member of the 400 lb bench press club!

I was going to move onto my work sets, but then decided since I was wearing my new Three Wolf Moon shirt, I might as well go for three PRs! Put on 335 lb on the bar and cranked out a 3 rep max (previous 3RM was 330 lb, done on January 25, 2013).

ROM Progression Method Week 1

Started my first week of the ROM progression method with mat pulls:

I have a feeling the weight that I'm using is too much for now. Pretty tough at this point to pull the weight that I'm using, and I'm pretty sure I won't be able to use the same weight as I remove a mat and lower the bar to the ground every week. I might stick with this weight, and then lower it later, or lower it next Friday. Not sure yet.

Barbell Bicep Curls...Outside The Rack

Also busted out some barbell curls.

I'm going to add barbell curls back into the mix because I want to get my arms (17" around, unpumped and flexed) as thick as my neck (18.5" around, unpumped and flexed).


Speed is something I'm working on (during the concentric part of the squat).

I'm trying to be more explosive out of the hole during squat, trying to come up as fast as possible for both my warm up sets and work sets.

I feel that it gives me a better warm up and better prepares me for my main sets, even when using the same weights. Plus, it feels cool to attempt to pop the bar off my traps and hear the plates rattling.

I do find it easier to explode out of the hole from a high bar squat than a low bar squat.

With a high bar squat, I pretty much just drop down somewhat slowly, then bounce and power it up with my quads while focusing on keeping my chest up.

With a low bar squat, I find I need to be more deliberate on the descent, and need to focus on keeping tight in and out of the hole. I think half way up I can finally explode while keeping good form.


Lastly, someone asked me about conditioning and the Texas Method, and I give me approach to it:

Stuff You Should Read

Anyway, check this out:

  1. Meet the Man Who Squats 905...RAW - an interview with Ray Williams @70sbig
  2. The Ten Rules of Progressive Overload by Bret Contreras
  3. The Best in Training by Jim Wendler
  4. Set a PR Every Day by David Dellanave
  5. Training for Maximum Strength by Dr. Michael Yessis


Here is my new secret weapon(s) to increase my deadlift:

rubber-pavers (1)

rubber-pavers (2)

rubber-pavers (3)

Ok not that much of a secret, because I found out about it here: ROM Progression Method.

The idea with ROM progression method is to increase the range of motion over time.

I kinda-sorta played around with the ROM Progression Method before, doing rack pulls in my power rack, but that was a pain in the ass to adjust the safety bars every time.

I had to set the safety bars on my rack to the right level, which involves pulling it out of the holes from front-to-back, and sliding it back in at the right level, all while listening to the screeching sound and feeling the vibrations from metal sliding on metal contact.

At the same time, I didn't use my B&R bar for rack pulls. I used an old, no-name crappy Olympic bar that I got from Kijiji. I've read that rack pulls done in the power rack runs the risk of bending whatever bar you're using, and I did not want to bend my best bar. The crappy Olympic bar is a bit thicker than the B&R bar, and the chrome is peeling off. Also, it barely fits inside of the safety pins of my power rack.

Well, getting my deadlift up has been a bit of a mystery to me, but partial deadlifts seemed to have helped before.

So, I figured I might as well do this right and pull from rubber mats rather than doing rack pulls in the power rack.

I had some left over rubber stall mats, so I cut them up resulting in 8 pieces of roughly 18"x24" rectangles. I also purchased 8 x 18"x18" rubber paver tiles from Home Depot ($7.99 before taxes and free shipping!).

With a total of 8 mats on each side, this raises the bar so that it's about 2" below the bottom of my kneecaps.

So right now I have 8 mats about 3/4" high. One week, I'll do my mat pulls with 8 mats, and then the next, I'll remove 1 mat so that there will be 7. This will be repeated until I am pulling from the floor.

It'll probably take a few "cycles" of this to reach my goal of a 600 lb deadlift.

I was going to start this yesterday, but ended up grocery shopping and then eating a hamburger instead.

Rep PR's and Other Training Updates

Hit some PR's this past week:

5RM: Low Bar & High Bar Squat: 430 lb x 5

2RM: Bench Press: 340 lb x 2

Overhead presses has been crappy lately, so I'm going to replace them with some good old fashion clean and presses. This should provide a "deload" from heavy OHP (because the weight I can use for C&P is limited by what I can clean, which is lower than my press), give me an opportunity to work on power (or muscle) clean technique, and get a little more yoked.

Also, looking at my Youtube channel I saw that the last time I tested a bench press PR was over a month ago. I might try 365 lb soon.

Stuff You Should Read

A few good articles I came across this past week:

  1. Self Assessments- Retarded In The Workplace, But CROOSH In The Gym (NSFW) by Jamie Lewis
  2. Random Things I've Learned Through Weightlifting And Writing- Part 1 by Kirksman
  3. 12 Fitness Lessons by Greg Robins
  4. 120 Tips on Strength Training for Women by Bret Contreras
  5. Increasing Work Capacity by Greg Nuckols
  6. A-List Exercises: Upper Body Pulling by Nick Tumminello

Got a 240lbs OHP this week, a weight that I've been wanting to press overhead for a while. Missed on 245lbs though, but I'm going to attempt it in a few days.

Also, this past week marks the 2nd year that I've been taking this whole "lifting weights" thing seriously! Here's some stuff I learned from 2 years of strength training. It might resonate with some of you.

And came across some good articles and a podcast this week:

  1. Comparing The Biomechanics Of Conventional And Sumo Deadlifts by Chris Beardsley
  2. More On Bands, Chains, And Weak Point Training by Paul Carter
  3. The Purpose of a Program by Justin Lascek
  4. Olympic vs. Power Lifting (Podcast) by Bret Contreras

Got a 345lbs bench press PR this week, and I have a feeling I'll probably hit 350lbs next week.

400lbs is still a loooong way to go...

Anyways, check these out:

  1. Lessons Learned from Marvin Eder by Bret Contreras
  2. Jonathon Sullivan Interview at
  3. 4 Genetic Factors That Determine Your Success by Matt Brzycki