Reverse-Grip Bench Press

I started experimenting with the reverse-grip bench press back when I was in my mid-20’s.  I wanted to add some variety to my chest/triceps training and remembered seeing pictures of the legendary powerlifter Anthony Clark, who was the first to do over 700 lb with this grip.

Anthony Clark
Anthony Clark

I tried the reverse grip and really enjoyed it.  I felt something different in the way it was hitting both my chest and my triceps.  And I was also pretty good at this lift–I could do almost as much weight as with the standard grip (I presume one’s individual body mechanics affect how strong he is with this lift).

It’s not something you see everyone doing.  I still remember getting stares at one of the gyms where I trained (in the Philippines) when performing this exercise.  I wish I had thought to tell them that the world record holder in the lift is Filipino (Clark passed away in 2005, but his record still stands I believe).

Turns out there may be some research to indicate this exercise does indeed activate the pectoral muscles in a slightly different way.  I keep reading about a study conducted by the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College (Toronto) that found the reverse-grip bench press increased the activity of the upper chest (upper pectoralis) by 30% compared to the standard grip.  I can’t find any original sources, but it’s been quoted on quite a few websites.

There is, of course, one big drawback to this way of doing the bench press: safety.  Dropping the bar would probably mean it landing on your face/neck, and I’m not sure even the most attentive spotter could react in time.

Speaking of spotters, you pretty much have to have one when doing this exercise.  Getting the weights into position by yourself is virtually impossible.

There is a work-around for those who want to try reverse-grip bench press in the safest way possible: a power rack.  I’ve seen some suggest using a Smith machine as well, but I prefer the rack.  Below is a video I did to demonstrate.

As I explain in the video, it isn’t a big deal if the rack is set a couple of inches above your rib cage.  The “sticking point” is usually going to be higher than on standard grip.  This you’ll still get plenty of training stimulation even if aren’t doing the complete range of motion you’d get without the rack.

40 Strong Review

40strongreview

I’ve had the chance to look over a new program from the folks at Critical Bench called 40 Strong.  This one is of special interest to me since I am now over 40 years old (I hit the big 4-0 a few years ago).  Here’s my review:

Introduction

Let’s face it, a lot of guys in their 40’s (and older) are completely out of shape.  This can happen for several reasons:

*Other things take priority over planning exercise and training.

*The aging process is accelerated by bad habits (an unhealthy lifestyles).

*Testosterone levels can plummet if the natural decline is further accelerated by obesity, poor diet, etc.

*The “mid-life crisis”–men feel like their life is not where it should be.

You get the idea.  Needless to say, a workout/diet program cannot solve all of these issues.  But it may be a starting point for those who want to improve their fitness level and overall quality of life.  And a well-designed program can also help those who have been consistently training but want to mix things up a little in light of new priorities and goals.

The Program

This is where 40 Strong comes in.  The authors have designed it to be something that can be incorporated into the “typical” life of a man with a career, family, and all the other responsibilities that life brings.  I’ll give you a little information on the training and nutrition philosophy behind this program:

Nutrition:  I’ve noticed that as I get older I’m a lot more sensitive to the foods I eat.  In other words, I can quickly feel the difference between a few days of eating healthy food vs a day or two of junk.  The nutrition parameter gives you some general guidance for choosing healthy foods.

Training:  The exercise component of 40 Strong is designed with more mature trainees in mind.  It incorporates cardiovascular training (steady-state cardio as well as circuit type training), stretching/mobility, and strength/hypertrophy training.   One nice thing is the exercise descriptions link directly to a YouTube video–you can watch and see exercise (or exercises) demonstrated.  The workouts get longer and/or more intense as you progress through eight weeks.

Review

Let me give you some ideas on the type of man that 40 Strong would be most beneficial for:

*Men in their 40’s who have neglected their health and want to start getting back into shape (losing fat, building muscle, becoming more flexible, etc).

*Older/experienced trainees who simply need a change of routine.  Guys who have been weight training for years, for example, may need to spend some time on cardiovascular training an mobility.

*Men who need to focus on diet and fat loss while maintaining their muscle/strength.  I see a lot of older guys who train but are just too fat.  They would look (and probably feel) better if they focused some of their efforts on getting leaner.

If this sounds like you I think you could benefit from this program.  You could spend 8 weeks on it then move on to something that is a little more advanced or specialized.

Just CLICK HERE if you’re interested in trying 40 Strong. 

The Psychology of Strength Review (Mike Gillette)

I’ve had the opportunity to look over a new program called The Psychology of Strength.

Mike Gillette

ThePsychologyofStrengthReviewLet me start by telling you a little about he author.  Gillette is a former Army paratrooper, SWAT commander, Homeland Security consultant, and armed forces tactical trainer.  He is currently an executive bodyguard, performing strongman and martial arts expert (the bar you see in the picture was bent with his bare hands).  He holds the world’s record for the most steel-tipped arrows broken simultaneously with his neck.  He’s also the creator of the Savage Strength Training System, a popular program on this blog.  Needless to say, he knows a thing or two about developing both physical and mental strength.

Program Components

Now let’s talk about what you get when you order the this program:

StrengthPsychologyReview Strength Psychology Instruction Manual:   This document begins with a summary of Gillette’s fascinating life story.  He was raised in a very dysfunctional environment that left him afraid and suicidal (literally) by the time he was 18.  But he made the decision to turn his life around and discover his purpose.  The author goes on to explain the mindset of mental Toughness he was able to develop and gives specific steps on how you can do the same.

The Videos:  This program also includes videos where you can hear Mike Explain the concepts in more detail.  The videos are the most important component of The Psychology of Strength program.

Video 1: Introduction–Mike begins this video by describing people who are not mentally tough–people who “just get by.”  These kinds of people, he argues, have a tendency to settle for less in life.   This can be changed if you develop mental toughness and take control of your mind, which will enable you to pursue the life you want.  He explains how this happened in his life and how he wants to help it happen for you.  This program, he explains, combines things he has learned from the various phases in his life (military, law enforcement, etc.).

Video 2: Personal Story of Strength–As I’ve mentioned, Gillette had a rough upbringing.  Hearing him share it personally is very powerful: “My story is one of weakness transformed into strength and second chances.”

Video 3: Mental Toughness (Part 1)–The primary concept in this video is the mindset of mental toughness.    Mike talks a great deal about the connection between the body and the mind.  Physical talent, for example, is not maximized until one develops the mental focus need to perform optimally.  He also discusses how negative emotions can affect everything we do.   This video includes some specific strategies to change negative emotions.

Video 4: Mental Toughness (Part 2)-This video focuses on fear–learning what it is so you can begin to overcome it.  Mike starts off by sharing a personal testimony of how fear used to control his life.  Fear management training is a concept you’ll be introduced to–not banishing fear (which is impossible and even inadvisable), but learning to face it. “What I want you to be able to do is recognize fear and do what you want to anyway,” he says.

Video 5: Mental Toughness (Part 3)–Mike talks about overcoming fear in this video.  Once again he shares a personal story (this one from his days as a police officer) illustrating our tendency to “freeze” when we are afraid.   He takes his life-or-death experience and explains how the same principles apply to almost any fear-based experience.   Mike then gives some practical steps that will help you confront and manage your fear.

Video 6: Life by Design (Part 1)–This video teaches you how to make effective plans for your life.  People often fail, Mike argues, because they don’t plan well.  Example: someone may say he wants to lose weight.  This is an admirable goal, but it just isn’t specific enough to really mean anything.  One component of proper planning is a specific, measurable goal.   This video really focuses on how to make challenging yet attainable goals and reach them.

Video 7: Life by Design (Part 2)–Mike shows you how to set long-term goals for five different areas of your life (physical, financial, etc.).

Video 8: Mind Strengthening Skills–This final video offers several mental exercises you can practice.  Mike encourages you to try all these skills/techniques so you can gain better control of your thoughts and improved awareness of your body (breathing, etc.).  Practicing these techniques can help you become physically stronger as you improve over time.

Review:

Sometimes we think mentally strong people were just born that way or grew up with every possible advantage.  This may be true in some cases, but it definitely wasn’t in Mike’s.  Mental strength is something anyone can develop if he/she will simply commit to new ways of thinking.

Most of the programs I review are about diet and training–physical aspects of self-improvement.  The Psychology of Strength is unique in that it deals almost exclusively with the mental aspect of improving your life.   I think it is worth your time/money.

I think this program would be good for the following:

*Athletes/trainees that want to overcome psychological barriers and further develop the mental aspect of their skill/game.

*People who want to overcome fear or lack of confidence.

*People who want to live more intentionally.

*Coaches and/or motivational speakers who want to add to their personal development library.

I think The Psychology of Strength would be a worthwhile investment if this describes you (or if what I’ve shared in this review/summary appeals to you).  The digital version is $49 and the “hard copy” version is $99.  This is relatively inexpensive when compared to what it would cost to go to a seminar of this length and quality.

JUST CLICK HERE IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO ORDER THIS PROGRAM OR LEARN MORE.

Note: You may see a video called The End of the American Male at the bottom of the program page.  I personally do not endorse (or use) any “testosterone booster” supplements.  My review only covers the program I have described, not any other products.

Alternative Products:  As I’ve mentioned, Mike Gillette has a program called the Savage Strength Training System.  Feel free to check it out if you want to learn more about his physical approach to strength training.