Insane Training: Garage Training, Powerlifting, Bodybuilding, and All-Out Bad-Ass Workouts

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9781250029867: Insane Training: Garage Training, Powerlifting, Bodybuilding, and All-Out Bad-Ass Workouts
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Matt "Kroc" Kroczaleski is a world champion, record holding powerlifter and an NPC bodybuilder known for his grueling, high intensity workouts.

Insane Training is what Kroc is famous for. His new book of the same name is full of programs that will help every gym rat take it to the next level, whether that's flipping a tractor tire 100 yards, deadlifting three times their body weight, improving athletic performance or puking in a bucket ― this book has it all!

Not for the faint of heart or average gym-goer, this is for athletes who want to take their training to the max. Are you INSANE enough to try?

· Learn how to squat for maximum poundage;

· Lift weights anywhere with a little creativity;

· Push yourself to the limit with the 1000 rep arm training session;

· Smash through your workout plateaus;

· Become the ultimate INSANE TRAINING beast!

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About the Author:

MATT "KROC" KROCZALESKI is a world champion and world record holding powerlifter,
as well as a national caliber bodybuilder. One of the very few lifters that combines
otherworldly strength with an equally impressive physique, Kroc is the 2006
Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic WPO Powerlifting Middle Weight Champion.
In 2009 he became the all-time world record holder in the 220lb class posting a 2551lb
total via 1003lb squat, 738lb bench press and an 810lb deadlift.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

ONE

CRAZY KID

 

My insanity toward training was with me from the time I was a young child. By the time I was in third grade, I was training for our school’s annual track and field day. It was the most important day of the year to me, and I dreamed about winning three blue ribbons all year long in anticipation of it. The standing long jump, fifty-yard dash, and softball throw were my own personal Olympics, and I desired nothing less than gold in all three. At nine years old, I really didn’t know much about training, but I knew that I wanted to win and, instinctively, that working hard was the best way to achieve my goal. I would go out and run timed half miles and do endless sprints up the sand hill behind our mobile home. After reading about Herschel Walker in Sports Illustrated, I added push-ups, sit-ups, and chin-ups to my training regimen. My mother would constantly worry that I was somehow doing too much and that I would injure myself, but I didn’t let that discourage me from my training. Years later in high school, those sand-hill sprints would include a log on my back, and I remember friends coming over and waiting for me to finish my “log hills,” as I called them, so we could go out.

As a child, I would often turn anything I could into part of my training. My brother and I would ride our Huffy BMX bikes to baseball practice. The ride was several miles down country dirt roads and had a number of hills along the way. Several of these hills were relatively steep and fairly long, and most kids would immediately hop off of their bikes and push them up the hill. I, on other hand, refused to do this and felt as if dismounting my bike was akin to surrendering in a war against the hill. No matter how bad my legs and lungs burned, I would continue to slowly pump my legs up and down until I reached the summit of each hill. I always abhorred losing, even if it was against something as inanimate as those hills.

TWO

THE BENCH PRESS

There is no denying that the bench press is the king of upper-body exercises. It is a matter of pride in the gym, as well as the most common measure of one’s weight-lifting acumen. We all want to bench big, and most of us probably enjoy performing this exercise more than any other. And, of course, if performed correctly, the bench press will give us results that match our enthusiasm for it by adding slabs of beef to our pecs, shoulders, and triceps.

So if this is all true, why do so many people still possess tiny bird chests and a bench max that looks like an IQ score? Simply lying down on the bench and heaving the weight around isn’t enough; it is performing the bench press correctly that makes all the difference. I’m referring not only to the correct use of form but also proper weight selection, intelligent programming, appropriate assistance exercises, and knowledge of how changes in technique affect both the primary muscles used and the amount of weight that can be moved.

FORM AND TECHNIQUE

First, let’s talk about the proper setup for benching, since this is both literally and figuratively where we begin. Your setup and technique will depend on your primary goals. I will cover both how to set up optimally for moving the most weight possible and what changes to make when your goal is to build the biggest chest possible. The primary difference between the two is the lower back arch and the degree to which you employ it. Powerlifters will want to maximize their arch, which will not only decrease the range of motion but also effectively increase leverage, allowing you to move more weight. Bodybuilders will want less of an arch so that the muscle is worked through a greater range of motion.

SETUP AND FOOT PLACEMENT

I will first cover the powerlifting-type setup, since this is the more complex of the two. First, lie down on the bench and grab the bar with an underhand grip. Slide backward along the bench and under the bar until your upper ab area is directly under the bar. Now, while staying in this position, tuck your feet back under the bench, directly beneath your hips and with the balls of your feet in contact with the floor and your heels raised. While keeping your feet in the same place, slide your body back toward the bottom of the bench until your torso is in the proper position to bench. At this point, your lower back should be arched quite high. Ensure your hips are in contact with the bench, and then dig your traps and upper shoulder blades (which should be pulled back together as much as possible) into the bench. Pinching your shoulder blades back and together not only provides stability under heavy weights but also helps decrease the range of motion since it pushes your chest up and pulls your shoulders back. Maintain this position while you adjust your grip, unrack the bar, and perform your bench press.

Bodybuilders will still want to set your feet first, but they can either be placed underneath your hips, as in the description above, or with the entire foot flat on the floor out in front of you. If you have difficulty keeping your hips on the bench while pressing, I would suggest trying the style with your feet underneath you since this form still allows you to use a good degree of leg drive but is more conducive to keeping your hips on the bench while doing so. Then simply lie back and dig your traps into the bench for stability: there is no need for a big arch since you do not want to decrease the range of motion.

LEG DRIVE

Many lifters are confused about exactly what leg drive is and even more so about how to effectively use it. Fortunately, it is really quite simple. With either foot placement described above, keep your feet planted firmly against the floor and maintain a moderate amount of tension in your legs as you bring the bar to your chest. As the bar touches your chest and you begin to reverse direction, push hard with your legs as you drive the bar off your chest. This will help to pop the bar off your chest, and the added momentum will assist you in getting the bar through your sticking point and all the way to lockout.

BAR PATH

The correct bar path is another facet of the bench press that many lifters do not understand. The most mechanically efficient bar path is a gradual arc from just below your nipple line at the bottom of the movement to roughly above the base of your neck at lockout. The exact points will vary slightly depending on your individual leverages. This groove will allow you to bench the greatest weight possible. To perform this properly, tuck your elbows in toward your sides as you lower the bar, aiming for a point just below your nipple line when the bar is touching your chest. The lowering of the bar must be performed in the correct groove because your body will naturally want to follow that same path as you press upward. The concentric and eccentric portions of the bench press should appear as mirror images of each other. As you begin to drive the bar from your chest, continue to keep your elbows tucked. As the bar approaches the midpoint of the movement, however, gradually begin rotating your elbows out until they are fully flared at lockout. This should always be performed carefully since flaring too fast or too much too soon will send the bar back over your head and into the racks and can put a lot of stress on the shoulder joint if done excessively. This technique can also be effectively employed when you hit your sticking point on a difficult lift, since the flaring allows you to straighten your arms to a small degree without the bar actually having to move upward.

ELBOW POSITION

Tucking your elbows in at the bottom of the movement decreases shoulder rotation, thereby taking stress off the shoulder joint, and it also takes pressure off the pec tendon, decreasing the chance of a pec tear. This position thus allows you to lift more weight by improving your leverage. When the bar is at your chest, your elbows, wrists, and the bar should all be in a perfectly straight vertical line when viewed from the side. Do not allow the wrists to bend backward with the bar being held back behind the arm. Not only does this place a lot of stress on your wrist, it can negatively affect your leverage. Big benchers have actually suffered broken arms by using this technique.

GRIP

Generally speaking, there are three different ways to grip the bar: with a full grip (thumb wrapped all the way around the bar), with a false, or thumbless, grip, in which the thumb is held behind the bar; and with the thumb held straight out along the bar. Regardless of which grip you use, you should always attempt to squeeze the bar as hard as possible and push out to the sides as if trying to pull the bar apart. This will increase your ability to engage your triceps and allow you to bench more weight.

While most lifters realize that using a wider grip will focus more on the chest and that a close grip hits the triceps hard, few realize that not only where but also how you grip the bar affects muscle recruitment. Selecting the appropriate grip is critical to ensuring you are working with and not against your own strengths and leverages. Changing the position of your thumb affects the position of your elbows. The full grip rotates your hand outward to a greater degree, thus rotating your elbows out and using the chest to the greatest degree of the three grips. With the thumbless grip, the hands are turned in more toward the body, making it easier to tuck the elbows on the descent and recruiting the triceps to a greater degree. Gripping the bar with the thumb along the bar is a compromise of the two. So a lifter with a comparatively stronger chest (or one looking to work the chest to the highest degree possible) would benefit most by using a wide full grip, whereas a lifter with extremely strong triceps would be able to lift the most weight with a relatively narrow thumbless grip.

ASSISTANCE EXERCISES

Assistance exercises are properly determined by the lifter’s strengths and weaknesses. Maintaining balance among your muscle groups is not only vital to preventing injury but also allows you to lift the most weight. Identifying your weaknesses in the bench is relatively easy, assuming the problem is not technique related. Difficulty locking out the weight at the top of the movement is nearly always due to a relative weakness in the triceps, whereas having difficulty getting the weight moving at the bottom of the movement is typically related to a weak chest. However, if the bar is barely leaving the chest or isn’t moving from it at all, that can sometimes be attributed to a lat weakness, again assuming the problem is not form or ego related: if you’re unracking the bar and it’s stapling you to the bench, odds are that you just aren’t being realistic as far as your true strength levels are concerned.

STRENGTHENING YOUR LOCKOUT

REVERSE BAND PRESSES

The exercise I prefer most for fixing a lockout weakness is reverse band presses. The reasons for this are several. Even though the exercise focuses on your lockout, it still allows you to work through a full range of motion and to press the bar in your normal groove. It also teaches you to push the bar from your chest explosively, because if you fail to do this, the momentum from the bands will be lost and locking the weight out will be extremely difficult. To set this exercise up, simply loop a pair of the strong bands around the top of a power cage (one on either side) and then hook them around the ends of the bar where you would normally place the collars. Place a dumbbell bench inside the rack, and you’re all set to bench. This setup will typically take approximately 150 pounds off the bar when it is at your chest and next to nothing at lockout, depending on the height of the cage, the bench height, and your arm length.

BOARD PRESSES

Board presses are another very effective tool for fixing your lockout. Depending on your arm length and where specifically the bar stalls when you’re pressing, you will use boards two and five inches thick when performing this exercise. Typically the “boards” are constructed from two-by-six pine boards and are usually nailed, screwed, or glued together to achieve the desired thickness. I have found that making the pressing area about eighteen inches long and having a six-inch handle works quite well. To perform this exercise, you simply have a partner hold the boards on your chest while you’re benching. If you don’t have someone available to do that, I have found that the boards can be easily held in place by securing them to your chest with a single knee wrap tied around you.

STRENGTHENING THE BOTTOM PORTION OF THE PRESS

Technique issues aside, the ability to drive the bar off your chest largely comes from your pectoral muscles and lats. Here, I focus on strengthening the pecs. Any exercise that allows you to work through a greater range of motion will typically help improve the “pop” off your chest. Dumbbell benching and the use of a cambered bar are the methods I prefer most when addressing a relatively weak chest. Dumbbell benching prevents you from bouncing the bar off your chest and also allows you to work through a greater range of motion by allowing you to get a deeper stretch at the bottom of the movement.

The cambered bar is also sometimes referred to as the MacDonald bar, in honor of the legendary bencher Mike MacDonald, who often used this bar in his training. MacDonald once held every bench-press world record from the 181-pound class all the way up to 242 pounds. The bar has a two-inch camber to it, allowing the lifter to lower the bar two inches farther than with a standard bar. One important thing to note here is that you must be very careful when first using the MacDonald bar because injury can easily result from the increased range of motion. Also expect the amount of weight you can use with the MacDonald bar to initially be significantly less than your normal bench, especially if your primary weakness in the bench is the bottom of the lift.

PROGRAMMING

Effective programming for the bench press involves a well-planned progression in the amount of weight used, sufficiently addresses and prevents overtraining, stimulates hypertrophy, and reinforces proper technique. The following program is one that I frequently use with clients looking to add not only pounds to their bench press but some pec mass as well. With this program, it is not uncommon for me to see an increase of twenty to fifty pounds in a lifter’s bench press over a sixteen-week training period.

The key to using this program effectively is starting with an accurate max. All too often, lifters overestimate their max or use a number they were previously capable of. It is essential to use your current true max that is obtained using proper form. Failure to do so will only result in overtraining and difficulty in progressing from week to week, negating the effectiveness of the program. In plain English: check your ego to make the most of this program. It is also important to note that the lifter’s max is not to be recalculated at any point during the program. Strength increases have been factored into the design of this program, and adjusting the weights used during the program will decrease its effectiveness. This program is also designed for the athlete to bench only once every seven days. Attempting to train the bench more often than this when following this program will quickly lead to an overtrained state and a reduction in strength.

 

Copyright © 2014 by Matt Kroczaleski

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