365×2 Bench Press PR, Missed Squats, Deadlift Worries, Belted Bench And Stuff You Should Read

May 19, 2013 — Leave a comment

Felt a little sick lately (coughing, runny nose), but still trained as much and as hard as I could.

Here's a recap of this past week:

Bench Press: 315 lb x 10 x 3, 365 lb x 2 (2RM)

On Monday I did a bunch of paused bench presses with 315 lb for 10 sets and 3 reps a piece:

I'm getting a lot of practice with paused reps, so I think I'll be OK for the meet.

On Friday, originally I was planning on 370 lb for 2 reps, but after not setting any PRs so far this week, I decided to play it safe and go for 365 lb instead.

You'll notice in the videos that I'm using the crappy spring collars instead of my Ivanko COT-1.25. And there are no fractional plates on the bar. Usually I put on a couple of fractional plates to the bar before adding the 45s. Those collars weight 1.25 lb each, so the combined additional weight is 2.5 lb. I normally throw on 2.5 lb of fractional plates to the bar (so the total weight before the plates is 5 lb) so that my numbers look nicer.

365 lb felt pretty easy to be honest, and I'm going to try 370 lb x 2 this upcoming Friday.

Missed Squat PR's

On Wednesday I wanted to front squat 370 lb x 2, which would have been a 2RM, but after the first rep I felt a sharp pain in middle of my back, along the right side. After this, I stopped squatting.

I felt pain whenever I twisted my torso or took deep breaths. This pain persisted the next day, but it dulled quite a bit on Friday.

On Friday, I wanted to low bar squat 500 lb x 2, but missed on the 2nd rep:

I didn't feel that the mishap that I suffered from Wednesday had anything to do with missing the rep, but more like I felt tired after the first rep.

For squats, I'll just work on hitting my sets and reps and a moderate weight with speed from now on, and save any PRs for the platform in June.


Of all the lifts...I'm worried about the deadlift the most. Mainly because of using a hook grip with a weight that I'm not accustomed to, and I don't train the deadlift very often.

I'm aiming for 550 lb in the competition.

I have deadlifted 550 lb before with straps, and my best with a hook grip is 540 lb. However, last Friday, I couldn't even deadlift 530 lb.

My pain tolerance for my thumbs is higher now, from a combination of deadlifting with a hook grip, and doing L-sit chin ups with a hook grip. I hope the pain tolerance will be high enough.

I think they might be using a deadlift bar during the competition. Apparently that makes it easier lift the bar off the ground (hence, getting a bigger deadlift) because the bar is not as stiff (ie. whippier). Or something like that.

For my deadlift training, I'm just going to work up to a heavy-but-non-grindy single with a hook grip, and do few sets of 3 afterwards. Nothing special really, but hopefully I end up pulling 550 in June!

Belted Bench Press

I used to wear a belt when I benched, mainly just for the hell of it. I mean, I have a belt, might as well wear it right?

However, I stopped wearing a belt for bench presses because I didn't see the point, and sometimes the buckle would pop open as I inhaled into my chest making my stomach temporarily slimmer.

But after reading this Q&A by Jennifer Petrosino, it made me re-think and reconsider wearing a belt again.

The reverse grip bench press touches the body quite low (below the sternum/upper abs) compared to a regular bench press. When I wear a belt, I can reduce the range of motion because my gut is pushed up and out (meaning, the top part of my gut - below the sternum or upper abs area - sticks out more). I haven't measured it or taken any pictures, but it looks like I get about an inch less range of motion with a belt. I'll look into this further in the future and maybe write a post, but it does seem to work in reducing ROM without the need to have a insane arch.

Also, I'm working on breathing into my belly to make it stick out more before unracking and lowering the bar.

I think with the combination of wearing a belt, and breathing into my gut making it as huge as possible, my ROM will go down, and my bench press numbers will go up.

Stuff You Should Read

  1. Rogue Voodoo Floss Bands Review by John Phung (That's me!)
  2. The Truth About Certifications by Don (not sure the last name)
  3. Coaching The Sumo Deadlift by Jacob Cloud

John Phung

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Ever since I started taking strength training seriously, I was bitten by the Iron Bug. Then it burrowed under my skin and laid eggs in my heart. Now those eggs are hatching and I... the feeling is indescribable.

Quick Stats
Height: 5'4" on non-squat days
Weight: 200 lb 210 lb ~220 lb (FOREVER BULK BRAH)


  • Texas Method: March 4, 2011 - April 28, 2013
  • Smolov Jr for Bench Press: June 4 - 22, 2012
  • Starting Strength: Nov 29, 2010 - March 4, 2011