Parenting problem/losing workout partner

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Parenting problem/losing workout partner

Post by Jungledoc » Fri Jun 13, 2008 8:33 pm

I have mentioned occasionally that my youngest (18 yr. old) son, Sam works out with me, at least part of the time. He is smart, funny, polite, respectful to adults, generous, loyal, has a strong sense of right and justice, is clean (except for his room) and an all-around pleasure to be around. Parenting him has been easy and a pleasure.

There are just two problems (well, maybe there are a few more, but they are not relevant here).

The first problem is that he cares about no part of his body like his "guns." And the most important lift is the bench. So left to his own devices, he presses, presses, presses, curls, curls and then does a few CG presses for his tris. He hates squats. He is interested in the potential for big numbers in the dead lift, but not enough to actually do it. He doesn't care about the strength or function of his legs. Begging, nagging, scolding, coaching on my part has done nothing to get him to balance his lifting.

Second, he is leaving home. And again, begging, nagging, scolding or crying on my part has done nothing to change his mind. He is determined to go on to college and live a normal life.

For some time he has had the goal of benching 225# by the time he leaves home. That is now just 8 weeks away. His PR is now 210#; he's been there for a few weeks, and has not been able to match it on the last couple of tries. He has started asking me if I think he will make his goal. I used to say "of course." But now I'm saying "not if you don't change the way you lift." He has agreed to submit to whatever workout I design for him, provided it gets him to his goal, and doesn't involve squatting.

This may be my last chance to be a hero-dad, so I'm appealing for help.

He is 5' 8" and 170#. His diet isn't perfect, but it's not bad. He is conscious of his diet and attempts to limit carbs and eat plenty of protein.

I started with a couple of routines I found suggested in articles, both with a bit of a Westside influence. Here's the outline of what I've come up with:

Bench
Bench Var
Tris
Lats
Side Delt
Rear Delt
Bis


Monday
Bench Med, 75-80% 1RM, 5x12 last 2 sets to near-failure
Floor Press, 3x5
CG Bench, 5x8
Chins or Pulldowns, 3x5 last to failure
Lateral Raise or Upright Row, 3x5 last to failure
DB Row, 3x5 last to failure
Hammer Curls (or whatever kind of curls he likes), 3x5 last to failure

Wednesday
Bench Heavy*, 1x90%, 95%, 105%
No bench var on Wed
Skull Crushers, 5x8
Chins or Pulldowns, 3x5 last to failure
Lateral Raise or Upright Row, 3x5 last to failure
DB Row, 3x5 last to failure
Hammers or whatever, 3x5 last to failure
*No heavy bench every 4th week

Saturday
Bench Light/power, 9x3, 50%, 3 grips ("normal", sl wider, sl narrower)
Incl DB press, 3x5
DB Extensions or cable pulldowns, 5x10 or 7x8
Chins or Pulldowns, 3x5 last to failure
Lateral Raise or Upright Row, 3x5 last to failure
DB Row, 3x5 last to failure
Hammers, etc., 3x5 last to failure

So, I need your help. What do y'all think? 15# in 8 weeks; is it likely? Will I be a hero-dad or just regular old chump-dad?

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Post by pdellorto » Fri Jun 13, 2008 8:43 pm

With my massive bench press 1RM of less than my bodyweight, I'm clearly the person to give you advice.

I can't comment on the program, because I wouldn't know a good bench program from a bad one. But I think you might benefit from this article:

Achieving Structural Balance - Charles Poliquin
http://www.t-nation.com/readTopic.do;js ... =-1#bottom

If you have him perform those tests, you can find out what's out of balance. It's also a good read for him, because he might have a "lightbulb" moment if he fails badly on one test and realizes he needs to develop something other than his bench to make his bench go up.

FWIW, I balance out on most of those tests...but my chinups utterly trash everything else. I can't bench 83kg for one rep but I can chinup like 110kg...stupid traumatic shoulder injuries!

Hope that helps, Jungledoc. I want very much for you to be the hero dad so he'll trust your workout judgment more than his own "bench and curl" instincts.

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Post by brook011 » Fri Jun 13, 2008 8:47 pm

15 pounds is alot of weight, depending on bodytype i guess it could be doable.... oh wait not muscle lol.. yeah thats definitely doable depending on form.
Last edited by brook011 on Fri Jun 13, 2008 8:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by pdellorto » Fri Jun 13, 2008 8:52 pm

Oh yeah, get a video of him benching and run it past folks here, and past Mark Rippetoe on the Strengthmill Q&A forum. You might just be able to clean up technique issues that are holding him back. Fixing my arch and foot position is probably part of the reason I added a few kg to my max.

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Post by Ironman » Fri Jun 13, 2008 9:29 pm

Just let him know the best way to get big guns is doing heavy chest and back exercises. I have big guns and I do very little direct arm work.

As for increasing bench, do a lot of low rep training. I'll do 5x3 with 5 rep max and then do a 6th set to failure. That works pretty well for me. 5x5 programs are pretty good too.

Also, I laugh at guys with big upper bodies and little chicken legs. It looks pretty funny.

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Post by ironmaiden708 » Fri Jun 13, 2008 9:42 pm

Eventually he will start to look like a clown if all the does is arms and chest. It's a very common thing for the overly ambitious to do. I see kids all the time who do that and just look ridiculous. Big chest from the front & looks like a peice of drywall when you see their back and you can't forget their skinny blobs for calf muscles.

Tell him to compare himself to a bodybuilder by looking at the muscle proportions. Preferably not anyone from the Weider Circuit since they all look like mutants.

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Post by Jungledoc » Fri Jun 13, 2008 9:46 pm

Ironman, He still has a little extra fat, which helps avoid the chicken-leg appearance.

Ironmaden, I've been kidding him about "mirror muscles" for quite a while now. Does he care? Not yet. He'll grow up. I'm hoping that he'll get some good coaching in college. I've decided that I won't be the one to change his mind. I just want to see him make 225# on the bench. The rest will come later.

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Post by ironmaiden708 » Fri Jun 13, 2008 9:52 pm

Ironmaden, I've been kidding him about "mirror muscles" for quite a while now. Does he care? Not yet. He'll grow up. I'm hoping that he'll get some good coaching in college. I've decided that I won't be the one to change his mind. I just want to see him make 225# on the bench. The rest will come later.
Sometimes that's what it takes. I am the same way on certain issues where I won't change unless I need to or unless I experience it myself.

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Post by Jungledoc » Sat Jun 14, 2008 8:17 am

So I showed Sam the routine I had outlined. He approved the lack of squats (indeed, any lower-body work), complained about the chin ups (which he also dislikes because he can't do vary many), but agreed to the plan. When we talked about working out today he asked, obviously surprised that might be thinking differently, "aren't you doing this with me?"

So the result of that conversation is that I have now put my previous workout on hold, and am a participant in a bench-centered upper-body training program for the next 8 weeks, not because I think it's a good way to train, but because it's a good thing to do with Sam. I'll try to work in an occasional squat or DL. I'll resume my previous workout in 8 weeks.

So today we worked through the lifts, establishing some 1RMs, and working out training weights.

Big guns, here I come!

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Post by pdellorto » Sat Jun 14, 2008 11:13 am

Maybe you should squat at the end like you said. They give a nice hormonal response, so in theory if you're squatting and doing that routine and he's just doing that routine, you'll get stronger. Plus the squat will help with your leg strength and core strength, which will mean you'll push better with your legs benching and you'll be able to keep a tighter torso for more stability.

Maybe you can convince him squatting is a good way to up your bench. And it'll help you more than 8 weeks without squatting will. Just finish up and then tell him you need to stick around and do some legs. :D

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Post by KPj » Mon Jun 16, 2008 3:07 am

Jungledoc - Has he tried and failed on 225? If so, where in the lift did he fail? For example, does he stall just above the chest, mid way up, before lock out, etc?

I think 15lbs in 8 weeks is extremely likely, especially at the ~225lbs range. Different if he was benching 400 and trying to get to 415!

Does he bench 'body builder' or 'power lifter style' ? If he's benching body builder style, with arms flared and back flat, then I reckon he could hit his goal with a few technique modifications - Arch back, shoulder blades in tight, feet back, whole body tight and introduce some leg drive :wink:

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Post by Jungledoc » Mon Jun 16, 2008 8:59 am

He's tried and failed at 215, just off the chest.

He lifts with arms at about 45 degrees, moderate arch, feet back, shoulder blades tight.

Lifting this evening was our first outing with the new routine. Unfortunately, Sam was real tired, had little sleep last night (he finished the last of his high school work on Friday, so what does he have to get up for? Except the rest of the world didn't realize that and woke him up at 8 AM!), didn't eat well during the day, didn't drink much, and due to an odd schedule we didn't lift until late in the evening. So it wasn't a fair trial. He came home and went to bed early. Wednesday is the next assault on 215. I think he will be well-rested nourished, hydrated and ready.

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Post by KPj » Mon Jun 16, 2008 9:56 am

ok... being weak off the chest is something i'm focusing on just now. So here's my thoughts..... :grin:

Being weak off the chest indicates a speed thing. Either that or weak lats / upper back / stability. Most people would benefit from more pull ups - I would recommend dropping them right down to sets of 2 or 3, adding weight if necessary.
Could be weak shoulders, too, in which case I would recommend lower rep push presses.... But since he's a mirror muscle guy, I would tend to assume his shoulders are strong enough and get enough work.

Anyway, here's my own approach,

Since I do an upper lower split, my first upper day has DB Bench press, heavy sets of 2 and 3. Second upper body day has speed bench, full ROM, with BB.

Also, in my case, i've benched full ROM maybe 8-10 times in just over one year. So there's obviously going to be a weakness in the bottom portion of the lift. Speed bench is to provide the need for explosive strength, and DB full ROM BP for low reps is so that i'm also hitting the lower portion of the movement with a lot of weight. Actually, the DB's take me lower, as I bring them all the way down and don't push the arch as much as I do for BB bench press, so it's almost like benching from a deficit (obviously this is within the limits of my flexibility).

I do pull ups all the time anyway, a lot of the time I do them twice per week. However, I've changed my grip to reflect my benching grip, just encase it 'helps the cause'.

My concern with the program you outlined is that it seems to include every form of benching, covering most rep ranges, variations and even assistance exercises, within one week. I reckon this could be over kill. Not for everyone, but 'mirror muscle' guys normally bench at least once per week, every week, without fail...

As an example, a friend of mine just added 45lbs to his dead lift, just by dropping it for 4weeks...

I'm not advising dropping it completely. Just, choose a variation wisely and work on it for 4 weeks and see how it goes. Also, choose assistance exercises wisely and stick with those. Since he's weak off the chest, you can only make the assumption that triceps are a strong point at the moment.

If he won't squat or DL, try him on rack pulls. They are far easier to learn, you can use a lot of weight straight away (think - ego) and your going to be over loading the lock out part of the lift, emphasising glutes and upper back,not to mention, he'll be overloading the core and essentially making it more efficient... In terms of big lifts, you need to think of the core as a means to transfer force, if he's not been squatting or DLing, then you can only imagine his ability to do this efficiently is limited.

I would honestly try the rack pulls if you haven't already. I've managed to make them popular in my dead lift shy gym - mirror muscle types seem to like them. Even guys who 'can't be bothered training legs, don't see the point" or the best excuse i hear a lot "I don't need to train legs, I played a lot of football when i was younger" (football=soccer). These guys like rack pulls. Still haven't got them pulling from the floor yet, but rack pulls are a start!

KPj

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Post by Manofsteel319 » Wed Jun 18, 2008 2:37 pm

If he's looking for a one rep max then make him fresh have him do some push ups and stretch and just go for the 225 give him a lift off so he doesn't waste anything there. I'm sure he could get the 225 if he does a few pushups and you give him a lift off. Make sure he's fresh though. He'll feel like a million bucks if he does it.

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Post by Ironman » Fri Jun 20, 2008 3:10 am

One thing you might mention. If he is not big on working back, this will pull his anterior delts forward. This imbalance in the shoulders will make his anterior delts a weak link, holding back his bench.

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