various lifting questions

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Labyrinth
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various lifting questions

Post by Labyrinth » Wed Nov 07, 2007 4:01 pm

I wanted to ask you some things on squats, deadlifts and benches.
I think I've been using poor form in my full squats and using my back to assist on the way up; someone at my gym today was suggesting that I use a much wider grip and to always look upwards towards the ceiling to keep my back straight. Does that sound right? Is looking up the best way to stay in form? What about deadlifting? Same thing? I thought that the Mark Rippetoe demos on crossfit said slightly down.. Lastly, when bench pressing (either flat or incline, barbell or dumbbells) is it necessary to touch your chest to get a full range of motion or to just go to 90 degrees to avoid shoulder stress; when I go to my chest it feels like my shoulders are doing too much work compared to my chest. This one really confuses me as I thought that in lifting full ROM is key to proper form and getting the most benefits.
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Post by Matt Z » Wed Nov 07, 2007 6:17 pm

Squats - A) When you squat fix your eyes on some point on the wall in front of you at eye level or slightly above. Then keep your chin up and your eyes fixed on this point as you squat all the way down and back up.
Squats - B) Grip will depend on bar placement and shoulder flexibility. Using a somewhat wider grip may allow you to rack the bar lower on your back, which may improve your form and/or allow you to move more weight. Meanwhile, men and women with poor shoulder flexibility often need to use very wide grips while squatting (this type of grip affords no benefit to those with healthy shoulders).

Deadlifts - I usually look straight forward when I deadlift.


Bench Presses - Yes, touch your chest. There's no reason for a person with healthy shoulders to shorten their range-of-motion while bench pressing. Short ROM benching is only necessary when injuries and/or poor flexability prevent a person from comfortably performing a full ROM.

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Post by ironmaiden708 » Wed Nov 07, 2007 6:17 pm

Touch your chest when you bench press. Going down those extra couple inches won't harm you unless you already have shoulder problems which if you did I wouldn't suggest benching or at least going super heavy with it.

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Post by Matt Z » Wed Nov 07, 2007 6:19 pm

PS.) When doing flat-bench and decline bench presses always touch the barbell to your lower chest, not your upper chest. Not only is this more comfortable and natural, you'll also be stronger benching this way.

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Post by stuward » Wed Nov 07, 2007 7:01 pm

Many people do partials on bench press and squats because they can use more weight. In both exercises the lowest range of motion is the hardest. If you are always stopping short of the hard range, with a weight that is greater than you can handle in that range, common sense will tell you that it's an injury waiting to happen. Park your ego at the door and always use full range of motion and never put more weight on the bar than you are prepared to go to the bottom with.

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Post by Ironman » Thu Nov 08, 2007 3:46 am

Not to mention chest is worked in the bottom part of the ROM. That's why some people think they need flys. They do half rep bench, that only gets tris and delts.

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Post by Matt Z » Thu Nov 08, 2007 7:20 am

One exception to this general rule, would be using partial reps as an occational supplement to ones normal training. For example, powerlifters sometimes use heavy partials and/or floor presses to break through plateaus. However, this is an advanced training method and not recomended for beginners.

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Post by KPj » Thu Nov 08, 2007 8:30 am

just thought i would comment on this part... I agree with everything else that's been said.
someone at my gym today was suggesting that I use a much wider grip
Just to note - i'm assuming you did mean grip, and not 'stance'.

If you use a narrower grip on the bar and it's comfortable, then congratulations, you have better flexibility in your pecs and/or shoulders than whoever gave you this advice. In other words, a wider grip feels better to them because they have poor flexibility.

A wider grip increases stress on the shoulders and screws with your stability throughout your whole body. Here's an article that mentions it

http://www.wannabebig.com/article.php?articleid=276

Here's a quote from the part that mentions hand position
1) Hand position

To begin, grab the bar with hands even on the bar and in tight to your shoulders. When you take a wider grip, it not only puts a ton of strain on your posterior shoulder capsule, but you also lose tension and stability throughout the torso. If you don’t understand what I mean, try both hand positions with a light weight and I’m sure the difference will be obvious.

Don’t let pec and shoulder flexibility be the limiting factor in your squat – if you need to work on it, as they say here in the Midwest, “Git-R-Done!”
KPj

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Post by Labyrinth » Thu Nov 08, 2007 3:16 pm

Thanks everyone; helped a lot.

Chris

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Post by Labyrinth » Mon Nov 12, 2007 9:25 am

One more question for you guys; the article KPj posted (which was very helpful) mentioned this about using a bit of a bounce at the bottom of the squat:

"Hit the hole at a comfortable pace, then use a little rebound to bounce out of the hole"

is this standard practice with squats? It feels quite natural to do this but I can't help but wonder if it's not technically cheating (it's much harder to get back up without bouncing..)

Thanks, Chris

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Post by Matt Z » Mon Nov 12, 2007 10:50 am

That depends on what is meant by "bouncing." In general bouncing at the bottom of a squat should be avoided, since it can be very rough on the knees. Likewise you shouldn't decend too quickly. Instead decend slowly under control before driving out of the hole explosively with as much speed and power as you can muster (while maintaining good form of course). Think of it like slowly coiling a spring and then releasing it when you reach bottom.

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Post by Matt Z » Mon Nov 12, 2007 10:52 am

What ever you do, never relax at the bottom of a squat.

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Post by caangelxox » Sat Nov 24, 2007 5:26 pm

For Squats and Deadlifts and most exercises, I like to look into the mirror to make sure I am doing proper form. I prefer using dumbbells though because they work stabilizers and muscles that a barbell would not work or a machine. Especially for bench press. I like performing bench press on the bench (at school) or stability ball (at home) so I can bring my elbows down for full ROM and then back up again.

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Post by pdellorto » Sat Nov 24, 2007 9:56 pm

According to Mark Rippetoe, it's better to skip the mirror on squats and deadlifts because it gives you a false reference point. You can move back and forth forwards without feedback. He mentions it in this video, for one:
http://media.crossfit.com/cf-video/Cros ... Angles.wmv

I've tried that and I agree with his assessment. I recommend using video...any good digital camera should do. Video your form from the back and sides and check it after sets. You can much more clearly see form errors you won't notice in a mirror in front of you...and looking to the sides on a squat or deadlift is dangerous!

FWIW I've got nothing against mirrors, I use them all the time for kickboxing training. But it's not the best tool for deadlifting and squatting.

Dumbbells are fine for squats and deadlifts, but it's hard when the weights go up. Barbells are easier to load. I'm trying to even things out with dumbbell unilateral work. So I barbell deadlift and barbell front squat, but I use dumbbells for one-legged deadlifts, lunges, step-ups, single-leg squats, etc. I figure it's the best of both worlds.

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Post by caangelxox » Sat Nov 24, 2007 11:42 pm

oh. I like dumbbell squats and deadlifts because it also works your wrists, forearms, and grip strength.


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