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Chuck Sipes Bench Press Power Training Program - 5 Days a Week By Dennis B. Weis We shall now look into the training wisdom that Chuck Sipes has shared with me by letter and long distance phone conversation. One of the things that really impresses me about Sipes is this: he has never neglected to write a reply to my letters. He always answered immediately and his solutions were very well thought. The point that makes this a great effort on Chuck’s part is the fact that at the time I was in heavy correspondence with him (the late 1960’s) he was a youth counselor at a California reformatory, was doing strength shows worldwide and was in heavy competition for such titles as Mr. World and Mr. Olympia. He was also training to bench press 600 lbs. at a bodyweight of 230. It is hard to see where he could find the time to answer my letters as well as those of countless others he was in regular contact with. The one thing that I have noted about all the training advice from Chuck is his constant belief that one should include heavy supporting movements to build up the tendon and ligament strength. From the beginning of correspondence with Chuck he always stressed taking germ oils, sunflower seeds, papaya, peanuts and lots of milk. He always advised me to constantly add weight whenever I could for maximum stimulation of growth and strength. He once mentioned that I should use a jump rope for 4 sets of one minute all-out jumping at the end of my workouts. The one advantage to using the rope is that it only takes a small area in which to use it. Here in Alaska it’s not always possible to run outdoors! During one of my letters to Sipes, I was very interested in increasing my bench press. This is one of the routines that he suggested I use. For this Bench Press routine he said to begin at least 6 months before a meet. This is a five days per week routine which is very intense. There is much direct effort stimulating the ligaments and tendons. Monday & Wednesday * Warm up Prone, regular grip – 2 sets x 10 reps. Bench Press – 2x6; 2x4; 2x2; 4 singles. Tuesday & Thursday Heavy Supports – 5x8. (100 lbs. over best press from ¼ way down to lockout.) * Prones – Close to maximum poundage. Heavy Supports – 150 lbs. over best press, holding with a slight elbow bend. * Prones – close to maximum poundage. * NOTE by Strength Oldschool: Not sure what Chuck Sipes means by "Prones"? It may mean performing Lying Barbell Rows for the Back muscles. A modern gym equipment version of this exercise can be seen below... Friday Incline Press, wide grip, slowly – 4x6. Dumbbell Incline Press, slowly – 4x6. Pullovers, very light weight, deep breaths following 1 minute skipping – 2x20 Flat Flyes, very deep breaths – 4x8.
Rack Work - The Key to Power Lifting (1964) By Terry Todd Several years ago, Bill March (pictured below) began to take rapid and successive steps up the ladder of Olympic lifting. His gains in power and physique were both regular and phenomenal. These gains were in part due to a system of training devised and refined by Dr. John Ziegler. We know this system by many names, such as limited movement, isotronics, partial movement, isometronics, and so on. However, as the system has spread and been adopted by the weight trainers of the country, a name has been used with ever increasing clarity and regularity . . . Rack Work. This name (Rack Work) sums up in simple terms the essence of the new system of training. Strangely enough, not much has been written on the applicability of rack work to powerlifting (1964). The chief reason for this is doubtless because only recently have the Power Lifts emerged as a popular sport. Up until a few years ago, the bench press, squat, and deadlift were used only as a means to an end and not as an end in themselves. This has changed almost overnight, and soon national, and possibly international championships will be held in Power Lifting. The purpose of Power Lifting is to determine a man's all-around bodily strength,and the three lifts now generally used; the bench press, squat, and deadlift, are well chosen for this task. They all involve large areas of the body's voluntary musculature and they all require a minimum of technique. This is in direct contrast to the Olympic lifts, where all three lifts have become "quick lifts" involving a high degree of flexibility, coordination, and practice. Many men are physically and psychologically well-suited for Olympic lifting, but not for Power Lifting. The reverse is also often the case, and the recent surge of interest and participation in Power Lifting presents an excellent and deserved chance for those men who are not cut out for the Olympic lifts to enjoy and gain from competition. For the man who enters competition in Power Lifting, as well as for the bodybuilder who feels a need for more strength to break a slump, Rack Work is the answer. It offers that combination which is rare in many areas of life -- maximum results with a minimum of effort. Detailed below is a program used by some of the Power Lifters and bodybuilders in this area. This program has brought excellent strength increase to all who gave it a fair test. Several variations of the method have been tried here at the University of Texas, but this particular routine has proved to be the most result-producing. Listed below are the exercises, the method or performance, and the poundages used by the author (Terry Todd). Monday: 1) Low Bench Press - begin with the bar just touching the chest. Raise the bar off the chest and hold for 12 seconds. Add weight when the bar can be held off the supports for 12 seconds. 570 lbs. 2) Top Squat - Begin with the bar at about 6 to 8 inches from the completed position. Perform 2 repetitions and pause just above the support pins on the way down from the second rep. Hold this position for 12 seconds; raise the weight again to straight legs; and finally lower the bar to the supports. Add weight when 12 seconds can be done. 1,300 lbs. (Limit of the bar). 3) Top Dead Lift - Begin with the bar at about 6 inches from the completed position. Raise the bar to the completed position being careful not to rest the bar on the thighs, lower to the starting position just above the supports and hold for 12 seconds. Add weight when 12 seconds can be done. 1,070 lbs. (With straps). 4) Frog Kicks - Hang from a chinning bar and pull the knees as close to the chest as possible. Perform one set of 25 repetitions. Tuesday: 1) Middle Position Bench Press - Begin with the bar at approximately the sticking point. Perform 3 repetitions from a dead start. Add weight when 3 reps can be done. 450 lbs. x 3 reps. 2) Low Squat - Begin at the bottom position of the squat. Raise the bar from the support pins and hold off for 12 seconds. Add weight when 12 seconds can be accomplished. 625 lbs. 3) Low Dead Lift - Begin with the bar at the height of the start of a regular dead lift. Raise the bar smoothly off the floor and hold for 6 seconds. Do not jerk the bar off the floor and if the back begins to round or hump excessively, return the bar to the floor or supports. 775 lbs. (With straps). 4) Bentover Rowing - Perform these in the regular fashion for 3 sets of 5 reps. Employ a loose or "cheat" style after thoroughly warming up. 465 lbs. x 3 x 5 reps. (With straps). 5) Frog Kicks - same as Monday. Thursday: 1) Bench Press Lockout - Begin with the bar at about 3 inches from the completed position. Press the bar to arms' length and hold it for 12 seconds with arms slightly bent. Add weight when 12 seconds can be completed. 740 lbs. 2) Top Squat - same as Monday. 3) Middle Dead Lift - Begin with the bar just below the knees. Perform 3 dead lifts from this position. Add weight when 3 reps can be done. 765 lbs x 3 reps. 4) Frog Kicks - same. Saturday: 1) Bench Press - work to a limit or near limit for 3 single repetitions. 465 lbs. x 3 singles. 2) Squat - Work to one limit or near limit single. 640 lbs. x 1. 3) Dead Lift - Work up to one limit or near limit single. 715 lbs. correctly, and 735 lbs. with a hitch. 4) Bentover Rowing - Same as Tuesday. 5) Frog Kicks - Same. The inclusion of the standard application of the bentover rowing exercise may seem strange at first glance, but there are five reasons for its appearance in this routine: 1) It enables the man who does some Olympic lifting to continue exercising the pulling muscles of the arm and shoulder girdle group. As an example, after practicing this program exclusively for two months, the author (Terry Todd) made a power clean with no foot movement of 385 lbs., 10 pounds better than his previous best. 2) It enables the bodybuilder to keep these same large muscle areas well exercised and filled out. 3) It exercises muscle areas that would be neglected unless it were included. In this way, this brief routine becomes complete since every major body part is vigorously worked. 4) The exercise does not lend itself well to work on the Power Rack. Because of balance problems and the chances of a back injury, the bentover row is one of the few major exercises not conducive to the heavy partial movement of Rack Work. 5) Last, but most important for the Power Lifter, the exercise bulks and thickens the latissimus and teres area, which is important in giving the original impetus to the barbell in the bench press. It is interesting to note that Pat Casey (photo below), the world's best in the bench press, always performs some type of latissimus-teres exercise, either the bentover row or the wide grip chin. This is basically the program that has been successful for many Power Lifters and bodybuilders in this area. It is no miracle worker, but it is a program based on a combination of the empirical method of trial and error and the observation of body mechanics. Its success depends in large part on the adherence to the general rules of good health and on the development and cultivation of a positive frame of mind toward whatever objectives are desired. If these rules are followed regularly and diligently, Rack Work can be the solution to many discouraging training problems, as well as the best method of adding those elusive pounds to the three Power Lifts.
Interview with Bodybuilding Legend Pat Neve By MTI (1980) Edited by: Strength Oldschool Patrick Neve can be reached online on Facebook. Pat Neve, as most followers of the sport know, is a former Mr. USA. He was twice 1975 and 1976 AAU Mr. America class winner - the first bodybuilder to achieve this two years in a row. He’s also been first runner-up in Mr. Universe and Mr. World. Neve was the first man in history weighing 181 pounds to bench press over 450 – his record was 468 1/2 pounds. He gave up powerlifting for bodybuilding and to let old injuries heal. His early workouts on the bench for power were like sacrifices to the Pain God. Feverish and intense, bench pressing to Pat Neve was an emotionally-charged voyage into a land where few men his weight have gone before. Info regarding photo above... * THE INTERVIEW * MTI: Not a lot of material has appeared in the magazines of the day dealing with your bench press ability. Did you have any secrets? Do you have any tips for beginners and avid Bench Press devotees? Pat: “First of all, I would only try my limit once a month. Too many trainers come to the gym and go for the limit every single workout. I would work my chest only twice a week – Tuesday and Saturday. I feel that a lot of triceps work is important to be a good bench presser, so I trained triceps pretty hard and benches twice weekly. My personal sticking point in the bench was three-quarters of the way up, so to break that I worked on the isometric rack, using the overload principle. This was done by loading the bar to 500 to 550 pounds where the sticking point was, and just lock my arms out. Actually, I’d be pushing the weight only two or three inches, but it allowed me to get used to the feeling of the heavy weight and build that lockout power. I just never had a problem coming off my chest. My chest was strong. The problem was where it stuck three-quarters of the way up.” NOTE: For Info on Heavy Partial Rack Training click here! MTI: How did you gear this routine? Pat: “When I was training for powerlifting, I would do anywhere from 10 to 15 sets on the Bench Press. After that I would follow with Bench Presses on a flat bench using dumbbells. With the bar I’d start at 10 reps and never drop lower than 4 reps. And, of course, once a month I always try for my record. I could always gauge my record by how easy my four-rep weight was going up. Like, if my best 4 reps were 440 pounds, and say I did 445 pounds for reps, I’d know my single would have to be up. But I would only push myself once a month, because if you push yourself too much you start getting weaker and weaker and that puts you in a rut and you become depressed.” MTI: What’s the relationship between the triceps and the Bench Press? Pat: “The one exercise that worked for me to supplement the bench power and triceps, was heavy French Presses (see photo below) with the dumbbell. You could either do it standing or sitting on the edge of a bench. I would work up as high as 165 pounds and do 10 repetitions. I thought this worked triceps the hardest. I’d go on to Lying Triceps Extensions with the barbell, One-arm Triceps Curls, and Pushdowns (see photo below) on the lat machine. They’d all be done very heavy". ** (To perform Seated French Presses, grasp a dumbbell in the center with the plates flat against your hands of the top loaded side. Lift overhead. Now with arms straight in the press lock position, lower the weight slowly behind the head. Press back up, using triceps only). “As a matter of fact, when I was powerlifting, I did every movement heavy. A good example of this is, when I pressed behind the neck I did 285 at 185 pounds bodyweight. On that dumbbell French Press I’d start with 75 pounds to warm up my elbows and go up to jumps to 95, 110, and finally hit 165. I just did everything heavy because when you powerlift you’ve got to do everything heavy. It keeps you used to the feel of heavy weights, and that’s in a slow strict form.” MTI: Do you believe the increased velocity of weights, when they are cheated and swung, is the enemy of the joints? Pat: “I feel that anytime you keep putting constant pressure on a joint and cartilage, it’s going to wear itself down. The cartilage between the joint is a pliable substance, and it can be worn down through excessive pressure. Then it’s bone rubbing against bone … and this leads to tendonitis ”. MTI: Okay, this comes from too much abuse with heavy weights, but is there a way to get around this? Pat: “I don’t think you can if you’re going to lift very heavy weights. I would say, now that I’ve been bodybuilding for the last few years, my joint pain has diminished a great deal. I feel it only when I train heavy, and I’ve talked to many of my good friends like Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Lou Ferrigno, they both claim they have no joint pain whatsoever. But these men never actually powerlifted for a certain length of time. I seriously powerlifted for three years. In that time span I attempted a world record in the Bench Press seven times, and set six world records.” MTI: To clarify that, we’re not referring to training for three to five reps, but sheer, brutal super single rep force being overused in training. Is that the profile? Pat: “That’s what I feel. I feel anytime you exert yourself beyond your normal limitations, that’s when you’re going to cause, and it’s just a matter of time, going to cause some infringement of the joint area. If you approach it from more of a bodybuilding standpoint, you stand a better chance of being conditioned, than just using wild force and psyche.” MTI: So you’re probably one of the world’s strongest bodybuilders for your weight and frame. Pat: “In my life, I only entered seven powerlifting meets, and I set six world records. My total was the seventh best in the world for a 181-pound man. A lot of people consider themselves that, but never entered competition. They claim they did such and such in the gym. Well, I myself at 185 pounds bench pressed 490 in the gym. I don’t even consider this a record, because I did it in the gym". “But when you stop and consider a world record, that means pausing with the bar at the chest, and waiting for the referee to give you the go hand-clap from that position, not being able to move your feet, hips or head. I mean that’s dong it according to the strict AAU rules. That’s the only time it counts in competition … sanctioned competition. That’s one of the things that bugs me about the sport. Everyone claims it, but officially where are they? Franco Columbu (see photo below) claims he’s the world’s strongest bodybuilder, Kalman Szkalak says he is; David Johns thinks he is ". "Now these men may have lifted a lot of weight, but who knows what kind of form, their particular bodyweight … I’m the only one who’s actually done it. I’m the only bodybuilder to be a national champion in bodybuilding, plus holding a world record in powerlifting at the same time.” The following comment on this article was provided by Magnus... The following comment on this article was provided by Chuck Mirabile… Some extra photos.... Chris Dickerson and Pat Neve Pat Neve in the Gym training biceps with Incline Dumbbell Curls Pat Neve - Single Biceps Pose - Incredible Arms!! Pat Neve - Side Triceps Pose Pat Neve - Bodybuilding Pose If anyone has any stories to share on Pat Neve, please add your comments below. If you wish to read a 2009 Interview with Pat Neve click here.