395 lb Bench Press, Squat PRs, Muay Thai Kicks, New Bench Press Set Up, Poor Man’s Big Mac & Stuff You Should Read

August 11, 2013 — 2 Comments

Not a bad week:

High Bar Squat: 370 lb x 10 (10RM)

Started off the week with a PR on a MONDAY. I don't think I've done that before.

Heavy Bag: Right Kicks

Hitting the heavy bag is probably my favorite form of cardio/conditioning while training alone. I particularly like kicking the bag with my shins.

It's functional in a sense that kicking the bag at full power will train you to get better at kicking stuff at full power. It also allows me to practice a skill (Muay Thai round kicks in this case), pretty exhausting yet fun.

I think I'll throw in some hands later on.

Heavy Bag: Left Kicks

I think my left kicks aren't too bad. They feel faster and harder compared to my right, but that's probably because I'm stepping into the kick with my right leg instead of just throwing it from where I'm standing.

Almost like a running start before throwing the kick.

Low Bar Squat: 500 lb x 3 (3RM with Knee Wraps)

During my warm up on Friday I was thinking, "why don't I try to squat 500 lb for a set of 5...with knee wraps". So I tried. Stopped at 3 because the 2nd and 3rd rep felt tough.

Reverse Grip Bench Press: 395 lb x 1 (1RM)

Last week I didn't complete my planned bench press workout. That meant that I had a little bit of extra rest for this week. I felt fresh and didn't feel sore at all, so I decided to try for a 1RM.

Nailed it!

It felt surprisingly easy and if you watch the video, you'll see that I look confused after the rep and looked at the plates at the end. I wanted to make sure that I loaded the bar correctly. I felt confident I could bench press 400 lb right after, but I missed.

400 lb bench press...


New Bench Press Set Up

I'm experimenting with a different bench press set up.

Normally, I lay down on the bench, grip the bar, and then lift my upper body up and push myself down into an arch while hoping that my traps and upper back lands in the right area.

Well, I've been having issues slipping on the bench, and I've tried applying a variety of stuff on the bench to prevent from slipping, with the latest solution being skateboard grip tape. I still occasionally slip even with this sandpaper on the bench, so I'm thinking now that the problem (and solution) isn't about my bench at all, but how I set my body up for the bench press.

I've read and heard about getting the pressure onto the traps during the bench press in order to keep the body tight. I've also noticed from doing dragon flags, that a lot of the weight seems to be on the traps throughout the movement, on an area that I think the pressure needs to be during the bench press.

I've seen some videos of other people placing their feet on the bench first, pushing their hips up (almost looks like a dragon flag, but with the feet on the bench) and wedging their upper backs/traps into the bench before lowering their hips and putting each foot down on the floor.

I tried this setup myself, and so far, so good! I didn't notice any sort of slipping at all during the bench press, and my body feels consistently tighter during the movement.

I'm thinking that the reason why I'm not slipping on the bench (at least, not yet) with this setup is that when I'm up on my traps and holding the bar in my hands, the pressure on the bench is on a smaller surface area compared to if I had my traps, upper and mid back on the bench. This small surface area (my traps/upper back) will dig deeper into the bench compared to a larger surface area (traps + upper + middle back), better anchoring me in place and preventing me from slipping.

That's my guess.

Poor Man's Big Mac

Poor Man's Big Mac

I seriously wish I discovered this a long time ago, because I would have saved a few thousand dollars (maybe) by now.

Normally I order a Big Mac whenever I eat at McDonalds, but not too long ago I learned about the McDouble (which is the cheapest and most nutritious food in human history apparently), which is basically a double patty cheeseburger and way cheaper than a Big Mac.

I recently learned that you can actually order Big Mac sauce on the side, which comes in little packets. Even more recently, I learned that you can ask them to put the Big Mac sauce into the McDouble for you! And via some Google searching, apparently you can ask for lettuce added into the McDouble as well at an additional cost.

Anyway, check this out:

Stuff You Should Read

  1. Knees in the Squat by Daniel Green
  2. More info about China and the "ChuanFu Squats" by Kirksman
  3. Measuring Improvements in Training by Benjamin Pickard
  4. How to Talk About Lifting to Adult Novice Women by Fran Mason

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