Monday, May 31, 2010

Krav Maga boot camp in Kansas City area

Start Time:
Monday, July 12, 2010 at 5:30am

End Time:
Friday, July 23, 2010 at 5:30pm

Yes, the toughest two week boot camp in the Midwest has returned. Consider the fact that we have students try other boot camps around the KC area and they all remark that they're not even as difficult as our regular fitness classes.

If you are not a member of our facility, you will need to attend an Introductory Seminar or week of self defense/fitness classes in order for us to assess whether or not you should attend. Yes, we have at least one person puke every year. Yes, only about 60 to 70% of the people finish every day. Yes, it's a friggin blast!

This year's beast of a workout will be July 12, 14, 16, 19, 21, 23. The times are from 5:30am til 7:30am. The locations will vary with the majority of them at our facility. The cost is $99. No whining and no refunds!

For more info call 913-671-8375 or email

Movie review of the week - Law Abiding Citizen

So I watched this last night. I meant to go see this in theaters but just never got around to it.

Gerard Butler plays a father who watches his wife and daughter murdered in front of his eyes, and sees the justice system fail to do its job. I love revenge movies and this was a GOOD one. Butler is convincing as a grieving father and Jamie Foxx, who plays the prosecutor, also does a solid job.

There are a few "huh?" moments plot wise but I don't find many movies that don't have those. This is a "moral of the story" movie in the end, and Butler's character does a fine job and making sure his rival (Foxx) understands what that moral is.

This is not a over the top great movie, but it is a very solid one. I definitely recommend it.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Assistance work for the raw powerlifter

Ahhhhhhh the topic of assistance work in powerlifting. This topic gets far more talk time than it should in the grand scheme of things. Assistance work does matter, but far too many guys get wrapped up in all the X's and O's of their assistance work and then wonder why their big lifts are moving as well as they would like. So I am going to cover my philosophy, if you will, about picking assistance work.

Adaptation specific -

My buddy Ed Koo and I were talking a few weeks ago about how specific the body is with moving big weights. His longtime training partner is an older fellow who pulls over 600 like the sun sets and rises. Ed said he quit pulling for a few months and was able to increase all of his other exercises for hamstrings, upper, and lower back. When he came back to deadlifting he went to pull 605 and it was STAPLED. I would expect it to be. For every guy that says he gained on the "no deadlift" program I will show you hundreds of other guys who lost strength that way. The "don't deadlift to increase your deadlift" may work for guys with perfect leverages to pull, but for the majority it's about as backwards as a philosophy as you can get.

Don't do something to get good at it? I'm not sure how that ever made sense to anyone. Ed's training partner got stronger in all of the musculature areas involved in pulling, but his actual pull went into the gutter. I experienced this same thing when I tried focusing on good mornings and box squats to increase my pull. I hit PR's in both the good morning and box squat and did speed pulls on a different day. When I went to pull heavy, weights I had previously moved easily, were ridiculously hard or stapled to the floor.

Get good at a lift by doing that lift. Especially if you aren't good at it. If you want to pick an assistance lift for that lift, pick one that mimics that lift very closely. You also must remember that you need to keep doing the main lift, even if the assistance work has great carryover. This is because of motor function. I believe that you can indeed train the main lift with lower percentages and push an assistance lift in weight that gives you good carryover. I intend to do this with my bench press for the upcoming meet.

Benching heavy every other week has worked well for me, however I believe that benching every week, but lighter, and pushing my incline hard will yield good results. My incline shot up using this method to right around 400 pounds and all I was doing was hitting 225-250 for a few sets of 15 after my heavy singles on bench. I believe this method will work for my bench as well, and not beat up my shoulders and elbows. Leaving me fresh.

So remember to train movement patterns, not muscle groups. Training the muscles involved in a lift doesn't mean that lift will go up. Performing the lift itself is the most important part.

Figuring out "weaknesses" and what to pick -

If there is any single "term" out there about assistance work that makes me chuckle it's when the "find your weakness" chant. Look, let's get real. The MAJORITY of guys have enough trouble setting up a program and following it. They have no idea how to "train weaknesses" and second, I'm not sure that's how it works anyway. I beat my hamstrings to death for years and was left with a deadlift that wouldn't budge no matter how strong they got. It wasn't until I stopped that shit and just started pulling heavy from the floor and from boxes that it started moving. According to some people, getting my hamstrings strong was the real key. Maybe it was, but the deadlift as it turns out, builds the hamstrings better than just about everything else. So I actually used the deadlift and a couple of variations of it, to build my deadlift. CRAZY I KNOW RIGHT?! /sarcasm

In my experience, finding the right assistance exercises just comes from trial and error. Lots of guys have been told to build their triceps to get a big bench and then spend all day doing pushdowns and skull crushers and their bench doesn't move. If simply building big, strong triceps were the key I promise you that everyone would have a big bench. I've never met a guy that didn't put considerable time into training his triceps.

So this is my own personal theory. You can take it, or give it right back (AnchorMan reference right there). Add in ONE assistance movement to supplement your main movement (do it after your main lift). Give it 4 weeks and push it hard in the 5-8 rep range. If it's a bodyweight movement, then shoot for a certain number of reps or do both (a top set of 5-8 followed by getting bodyweight for a certain number of reps).

You should improve in strength on it. If you main lift improves, it is helping. If it does not, drop it and try something else. Don't beat your head against a wall because someone told you that you have to do a particular exercise. Sometimes an assistance movement is building a weakness, thus improving your main lift, and sometimes it is improving your "strengths", and also improving the main lift.

Let's cut through the bullshit here. The bottom line is improving your main lift. Sometimes taking what you are good at and making that better is just as good as improving a "weakness". Throw out the "train your weaknesses" mantra and worry about what is helping the lift instead. Then you can cut through doing a lot of bullshit and figure out exactly what is working for you.

So if you are improving on strength in the assistance lift AND the main lift, then credit the assistance lift, and ride it out until the main lift stops moving. If the assistance lift is moving up and the main lift is not, drop it. Again, focus on the real key, improving the main lift.

When the main lift stops moving try something else as your assistance work and repeat the above.

Assistance for the Squat -

For me, the squat itself is enough. I have done every leg exercise in the history of lifting (or at least I think I have) and just squatting has always worked the best for me. I will give some variations I think have good carryover, but I honestly believe of the three powerlifts the squat is the one that requires the least amount of assistance work.

Pause Squats -

In my opinion pause squats are probably the single best assistance exercise a raw guy can do. Remember when you aren't wearing equipment you need to train the bottom portion of the movements. And with pause squats you will build a lot of strength coming out of the hole. I ran 6+ weeks of pause squats only and can say they will also grease your form like no other. Your sit down and core have to be super tight in order to move some "big" weights out of the hole. If you don't believe me try sitting down in the bottom then letting your breath out and watch what happens. This is a pretty interesting test. It will let you know right away how important it is to be tight in your midsection to move strongly out of the hole.

An easy way to put pause squats into your routine is to either just do pause squats for 5 sets of 3 (same weight) or to do them after regular squats. Take of 50-90 pounds of what you did for your top set of squats, then knock out 2-3 sets of 3-5. If you are running something like 5/3/1 you could use the first set plugged in for a percentage for pause squats and shoot for the required reps (so it would be 5,3,5 over three weeks).

Front Squats -

My feeling on front squats are fairly mixed. I think they do an awesome job of developing full body strength, maybe even more than the squat in some aspects, however as far as getting carryover to the actual back squat, I never got much out of them. Lots of people swear by then however so throw them in there and work hard on improving them and see what happens.

Box Squats -

For the raw guy, I believe box squats are incredibly overrated. Even on a below parallel box. When you sit down on a box and unload that bottom portion it creates an environment that is the opposite of what a raw guy needs. I've addressed this movement before in my article about raw squatting so I won't go into it again. I think that box squatting has turned into what HIT turned into in the 90's with guys training once every three weeks. Box squats aren't Gods gift to great squatting. It is a great tool for teaching beginners how to squat and in my opinion great for multi-ply guys, however for raw guys I don't think it is a good assistance movement. That's just from my own training and talking to a lot of other raw guys.

If you do want to do them, what I suggest is just TOUCHING the box then exploding up. This way you're not unloading the quads and hams at the bottom. Again, as with anything, work them in, give them a fair chance and figure out if they work for you.

Hack Squats -

Hacks are interesting in that you are in a fixed movement yet the quads work harder than they do in a regular squat. I am fairly intrigued about inserting hacks as an assistance movement for my squats for my meet prep. This may happen. If so I will document it here.

Zercher squats -

More worthless than rubber lips on a woodpecker for powerlifting in my own opinion. Great for strongman training. Again, try em out and see what happens. Yuck.

Leg Press -

Uh oh I brought up the leg press! This violates my "similar movement pattern" rule. However lots of guys have used the leg press as a good movement to aid their squat. Andy Bolton, Steve Goggins, Eric Lilliebridge, etc. I used to love leg pressing but once I got to where I could do 10 plates per side for high reps it just became exhausting to load all of those plates on and off. Some guys really like the 1-legged version for this reason better. Try em out and see what you think.

Bench Press -

Grip variations -

This is probably the best overall way to work on increasing your raw bench in my opinion. You can do your competition grip work, then do some close grip and then wide grip stuff. This was really common back in the 70's and 80's before the shirts got crazy.

Incline -

I have fallen in love with incline as a bench builder. No it's not in the same plane but I can move pretty decent weight on incline, and for whatever reason it has great carryover to my bench. Remember, I define carryover as "the assistance lift goes up and the main lift goes up in conjunction". In regards to incline and bench when one goes up the other one does as well. Now I don't mean to say I could do incline only and increase my bench. I still have to actually bench.

Dumbbell bench -

A lot of guys like dumbbell bench to aid their bench. I like dumbbell benches for rep work but never noticed they made my bench feel better. I do think they have a lot of merit, I just don't know why. HAH!

Cambered Bar Bench -

This was a favorite of the great bencher Mike MacDonald. Be careful if you use these. You don't have to bring the bar down to touch actually, just bring it slightly below the usual ROM for bench. Again, be careful on these because they can be rough on the shoulders.

Deadlift -

Box Deads of various heights -

What I call box deadlifts is when you put the weight on the box, not standing on the box (I call that deficit deadlifts). I also only advocate pulling off the box from below the knee. I did above the knee for a long time and never found any carryover to the floor. Again, your mileage may vary so try each out. I will say that when you pull from below the knee you will find spots where you are weaker than you are from the floor. TRAIN THAT AREA!!!! It will suck but it will help your deadlift tremendously.

Deficit Deadlifts -

If you do these mind the height of what you are standing on. If you get too high you can get more quad involvement and it kind of becomes a whole new lift. I find that is the case for me anyway, and then when you go back to the floor there isn't as much carryover. Try smaller deficits at first, like standing on a single plate.

Stiff Legs and Romanians -

I did well with these too. Pulling stiff legs for high reps works pretty well because you stay a little lighter.

Conclusion -

Like I said, throw in one assistance movement at a time and work it hard for a few weeks. As it improves make notes of what is going on with your main lift. If it doesn't improve in some fashion, drop the assistance movement. And once again, remember that like all good things it must come to an end. In the end it is all about improving the main lift, so judge the worth of your assistance work based on what is happening with your main movement. Not the other way around.

Run,Lift,Bang -


Ready to start training!

I'm back from Cali, super tan, and super motivated. I think the month+ of just taking it easy was good for my mind and my joints and I'm really breathing fire to get back to moving big weights. My meet prep will be 9 weeks following by a deload week, then a week off and then the meet. I am hoping for a minimum of 650/450/650 completely raw (no belt). That has been the goal for this year and I believe I can hit this. I think I'm a little too heavy right now so the first few weeks I will be dropping weight, which is not ideal, but with two vacations back to back (well Cali was supposed to be training for my job but felt like a vacation) it is what it is.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Training and eating on the road

Well I've been in Orange County for a few days and last night we went and ate Sushi. I am a big sushi fan, but this was without a doubt the worst sushi I have ever eaten. Zero taste and very slimy. Not only that, but the shrimp was definitely not cooked. So I woke up around 3 a.m. with some pretty bad stomach cramps and you guessed it, had some food poisoning. I was in and out of the bathroom until I had to leave for training around 7:30 and luckily I think I got it all out by then. I still felt very cruddy for the better part of the morning but by lunch I was good to go. One of the guys here with me who also ate a lot of the sushi ended up sick as well. Glad to report he is also feeling fine now, so it wasn't TOO bad.

Otherwise traveling to Cali has been awesome. We ate at Flemings the first night here and I HIGHLY recommend it. We ate 6 loaves of bread (yes 6), then I downed a 22 ounce steak, fully loaded baked potato, salad, and part of a dessert. Our waitress was 100% awesome and so was the staff. We did end up having one of the funniest things ever in my entire life happen, but it is not funny to tell the story, but I will try.

One of the guys I'm here with ordered mashed potatoes and when they brought it out, it was in a semi-large bowl with a spoon in it. The guy puts it on the table and grabs the spoon and starts chopping up the mashed potatoes at a rapid fire pace. I mean, faster than you can imagine. I figured he would do this for a few seconds and stop, but he didn't. He kept chopping these mashed taters with a fervor that is hard to describe. After 45 seconds or so I am having to hold my laughter in because the whole scene feels very ridiculous. After more than a minute I am barely holding it and then I make the mistake of looking across the table and see one of the guys I am here with, holding his napkin over his face so he too won't burst into laughter. Well that pretty much did me in and I started laughing hysterically. The waitress bumped me and said "stop laughing" in a playful way, and that made it worse. Then suddenly the guy stops chopping the mashed potatoes and walks away real fast. All three of us were in tears at this point and I laughed so long and hard that my abs cramped and I could barely breathe.

Again, it doesn't sound like the funniest thing you could ever hear but to be there was possibly one of the funniest moments of my life.

I actually trained today in the hotel gym which isn't too horrible. I did 5 sets of 20 with their 55 pound dumbbells on flat bench flyes, 3 sets of lat pulldowns, some upright rows, bent laterals, and db curls. My elbow is slowly feeling better and I think the light training for a few weeks has helped that a lot.

Let me also say that if you are a single guy, you need to move to Orange County. If you can afford it. I don't know that I've seen a single girl here that isn't incredibly attractive. It's hard to even describe. I guess that's what happens when you live somewhere where the weather is good year round and people are far more active than land locked states. We walked up and down Laguna Beach yesterday and there were kids everywhere on skate boards, running on the beach, playing volleyball, basketball, riding bikes, roller blading, you name it. People here are FAR more active and I don't know that I've seen anyone that is really overweight. Very refreshing.

I am supposed to train with Ed Koo this week but he has come down with some kind of sinus/bronchitis deal so I doubt we'll be able to do get a training session in, but we'll see. If not, it's all good. I wouldn't mind getting over to Gold's however, just for kicks and grins.

I will try to update the blog when I can. I have to pay for internet service in the hotel (this is strange to me, high speed used to be free everywhere even in shitty hotels) which sucks, but oh well.

Stay strong.


Saturday, May 22, 2010

Off to Cali

I am off to Southern California (well, Sunday after lunch) for job training stuff for the next week+. The next week I start my prep for the August meet and I'm getting very excited. I am also working on an article on raw lifting assistance work that I will get out soon.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

PC - Training

20May10 - Pressing

Bodyweight - 238 WTF?!?!?!?

Neck and Abs - 2 sets each x 15

Hammer Strength Incline Press - 4 plates per side x 8

Machine Bench - up to stack x 8

Tit Machine - 3 sets of 8-12

Cardio - 20 minutes with some fast intervals.

Wow my weight is just stuck in the 230's it seems. I got two weeks until I start my training for the meet and I'm still right at 240. I was hoping to get down to 225 and then slowly eat up for the meet because I do better in a nice calorie surplus. However when I arrived home from Vegas I was 251!!! I lost back down to where I am now in two days however I am not "fat" right now, I have a full visible 6 pack but am definitely not bodybuilding ripped either. I wanted to get back into single digit bodyfat before I started the meet prep but that isn't going to happen. So I will have to put a limit on weight gain in preparation for this meet.


425x9 (pinned on 10th)




Rope Tuck
2 sets

Was feeling a little bummed about missing that 10th rep with 425 on squats but then I ran it through the max calculator when I got home and discovered I charted at 540 if you believe in those whacky things. I doubt I'm actually good for a 540 single right now, but I do think the base strength is there, and at the very least I gained a new perspective on the workout.

I'm benching tonight and will hopefully be a little more timely in posting that workout.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The belief factor in your training

The internet is filled with websites full of training information, routines, diet, and everything under the sun you can think of regarding how to build a bigger/smaller/leaner/stronger you.  If you admire a particular IFBB pro bodybuilders chest or arms or wheels, I can just about bet you money that he has a website and on that website he probably talks about the routine he uses including exercises, sets, reps, weights, etc. 

If you are a powerlifter and want to get a bigger total you'll have no problem finding plenty of websites that will tell you how you can get more out of your squat, bench, and deadlift including improving technique, cycles to peak for meets, and what assistance exercises to use. 

If you want to lose weight you will be overwhelmed with the amount of information available to you on the net. 

So the obvious question from me is, if we know some simple truths about weight loss, strength gain, and muscle mass building why is there so much information and why are there so many people walking around confused about what to do? 

Truths -

Some basic an accepted "truths" we know from decades of lifting and eating are....

To lose weight, have a calorie deficit.  This can be done by simply eating less or a combination of eating less AND doing more (cardio).

To gain weight/mass have a calorie surplus. 

To focus more on building mass in training, use your heaviest working sets in the 8-20 rep range and get stronger in that repetition range. 

To focus more on building maximum strength use sets in the 1-5 rep range.  Especially sets of 1, 2, and 3. 

(just as a note, sets of 5-7 gives you a bit of both but doesn't build single rep strength quite as well as singles, doubles, and triples, and doesn't build mass quite as well as sets of 8+ in my opinion)

Gray Areas -

Here are some gray areas that get heavily debated a lot and are really more personal decision type stuff IMO............

Carbs - I've lost fat eating carbs and lost fat on completely cutting them out.  I personally like having some carbs because they are a big part of the basic workings of physiology.  Glycogen is the best fuel for explosive training and strength.  I have this strange theory with zero evidence to back it up, that glycogen can and is used by the body for fat burning.  Different article...

Frequency - This is comprised of one camp that says you need to train 5-6 days a week, and the camp that says you can do just fine with 2-3 days a week.  I think this is a personal issue.  Some people WANT to train 5-6 days a week.  I personally am in the latter camp.  I think you can lift 2-3 times a week and cover everything just fine.  If you throw in 1 day or hard conditioning and another day or two of easier conditioning you've got it all covered. 

Volume - Again two camps for the most part.  High volume and low volume.  Some guys say do a lot of sets and some say you can get by just fine with a couple.

To failure or not - Either go to failure (meaning you can't do another rep) or to stay away from it.  I personally think at some point you're going to HAVE to do some "to failure" training.  I feel strongly about this.  You can do a crap load of volume but you can't just keep adding volume forever and ever.  At some point you're going to have to train hard and go balls out.  This doesn't mean you have to train like this all the time, and I don't recommend that.  But if you've been stuck for a while and you are a high volume guy then it's probably time to drop some volume and go all "Heavy Duty" for a while.  This will probably get you over a hump and then you can resume your high volume stuff. 

The real missing ingredient - The power of your belief

Ok so above you have the "facts" (yes I know they are not truly facts), if you will, and then the not so facts.  Throw out the gray areas and stick with the facts.  Now what are you left with?  Some basic principles that you already know work.  The rest of the stuff varies greatly from training philosophy to training philosophy. 

So why do some programs work for some people and not for others? 

My personal opinion is that it is related to ones belief in particular program. 

Allow me to elaborate.................... 

Placebo is a hell of a drug -

Back in the day when supplements were mostly scams (not that they aren't now) we had all sorts of crazy ads claiming crazy results from taking their products.

"Brian gained 37 pounds in 30 pounds and lost 19% of his bodyfat!" 

Yes I'm making a bit of a joke here but if I could dig up some old muscle rags I bet I could find an advertisement that isn't too far off from that.  So then average joe bucks up the money for this product, starts taking it and indeed starts making some solid gains.  Not what the advertisement promises but indeed some gains.  What I have generally found is that when average joe gets his order in, is that his excitement level and motivation level is high.  He trains balls out, he eats really well and does all of the other right things associated with a good training plan.  Why?  Because he believes in X product and wants to get the most from it.  I believe that if he could have summoned up the same motivation level without product X he would have achieved the same results or very similar results.

So average joe BELIEVED in the product he paid good money for, thus he put a solid plan into action and he got stronger and bigger.  He now believes in product X (until it's reformulated and becomes "new and improved") and that it works for him.       

When you believe in something strongly, you can and will find evidence to support your belief all over the place.  People tend to seek out others who will verify that their opinion is correct.  So average joe will scour the net looking for everyone else who has used product X and gotten bigger and stronger with it as well.  He will dismiss the opinions of those who say it does not work.  Because it obviously worked for him, so they must be stupid and wrong.

This same scenario applies to training methods as well.  If you love training plan X and used it because your buddy used it and got massive and swole, you will have a strong belief that it will work for you as well.  And you will train your ass off using it.  And guess what?  You will make gains, and thus your belief is reinforced.  People who tell you it does not work will be labeled as stupid. 

This doesn't mean that training X isn't a good or great training program, but no training plan works without someone putting in the effort to make it work.  So your BUY IN to a program or philosophy or template or whatever is really the most important part of making a program work.

Those pesky facts again...

Now of course you have to plan appropriately.  No amount of placebo can overcome poor ass planning.  If you're goal is to get bigger and you're eating below maintenance level in calories you're not going to get bigger.  This is a philological fact.  Growth requires energy and energy is calories.  If your goal is to lose weight/get leaner and you're overeating each day then it's not going to happen.  You don't use Pilates to get stronger for football or powerlifting.  You don't want to do heavy partial lifts if your goal is to get better at Yoga.  You need to plan appropriately for your goals based on some simple anecdotal facts and then work those gray areas to your liking.  When you get everything lined up in a way you believe will work, then you can pour your energy into it and results will come. 

So without proper planning AND proper belief, results will not be what you expect them to be or should be.  Train and eat appropriately for the goals you are trying to achieve.  Then pouring your belief and energy into what you are doing will be easy and your plan will be effective.  The two are a handshake mechanism.  Make sure they are connecting properly.  When that happens you'll know it because your belief in that program will be strong. 

Now I feel like watching Star Wars for some reason.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


19May10 - Back/Biceps

Warm up - decline sit ups and neck raises - 2 sets of 15

Wide Grip Lat Pulldowns - 1x15,1x12,1x10

Chest Supported T-bar Row - 70 x 15 x 15

Shrugs - 315 x 20 x 20

Machine Curls - no idea x 12 x 12

Cardio - 4 intervals on treadmill at 11 MPH for 1 minute each (3 minutes in between)

Easy and light. Did this workout in less than 45 minutes, went through everything really fast.

Early stages of meet prep begin tonight

Well I will start my pre-meet prep stuff tonight. Nothing heavy, but actually going through the motions of the routine I will be using. My layout is very basic. I will cycle my bench, squat, and deadlift using mainly percentages of my back off sets to gauge where I am at during each phase of the cycle.

My routine will be as follows -

Tuesday - Abs/Neck/Back/Biceps

Abs - 3 sets of 10-12
Neck - 2 sets of 20-30
Pulldowns/Chins alternated each week - 12,10,8
Db Rows/Chest Supported Rows alternated each week - 12,10,8
Barbell/Db Shrugs alternated - 1x20
Curl (optional) - 12,10,8

Thursday - Press
Incline - 10,8,6,12
Close Grip Bench - 1x6-15
Seated Db Press/Press Behind Neck (optional) - 12,10,8

Saturday - Squat/Deadlift
Calf Raises - 2x20
Squats - cycle work
Deadlift - cycle work

To explain a few things here, I will incline heavy 2 weeks, do light bench after. Then bench heavy once a month. The reason for this is because I cannot bench often because of my shoulder. So I will push the incline hard and then keep the nervous system response intact to benching by using medium loads with medium reps to build the strength and save my shoulders/pec minors.

I will alternate assistance work like chins and pulldowns, rows, and overhead presses. Mainly to keep things from going too stale.

My 12,10,8 rep range is basically working to a top set of 8. I feel like a top set of 8 on assistance work is a pretty good range because you get some hypertrophy work and strength work and you can work "heavy enough". Obviously I like higher reps on some other exercises. This is just personal preference really.

I will say up front this could change once I get started because some things will "feel" more right than others. However I have run this exact routine many times and it's usually my favorite.

I will do 2 weeks of light pre-meet prep then I will start pushing everything a little harder. I usually peak in strength at about 7-8 weeks and this particular program will run 9 weeks. The 9th week will end up being a "smart" single for the big 3 lifts then I will deload for weeks 10 and 11 and then compete on August 20th (the 12th week).

My articles at elite

A big thanks to elite for posting up my articles.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Back from Vegas

Sorry for no posts, I just returned from Vegas vacation. I had a great time, feel totally recharged and my joints are feeling better. It's hard to take time off when you love lifting so much but sometimes your love for the iron can be a hindrance to progress. I will probably still just do some light stuff for the next two weeks and then my meet prep for August 20th will start. Then shit gets serious.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Recent Workouts

I barely got started before I became lax in updating my log. Fear not! I actually have been training.



Hammer Row
3 sets

I had worked up to 315x5 about 5-6 weeks ago. Then I took a week off and ramped back up to it again. I had a little more confidence this time, and while it wasn't easy, the reps were never in doubt. So the base strength is clearly there for the 350+ bench I want to hit at 198. I just need some lower rep practice now.



GM to low pins



Rope Tuck
2 sets

Real nice little squat workout. Much the same as with bench, I think my base strength is decent but I need more practice with low reps. The 455 single wasn't hard by any means, but I'm not ready for the 525 I want to hit. The reps with 405, on the other hand, felt smooth and easy. As for the GMs, 175 might not sound like much, but that shit is hard for me. It's obviously a weak point.

Training log updated


Sunday, May 9, 2010

Squatting and Deadlifting layout in a program

Figuring out exactly how to lay out your squat and deadlift can be a pain for a lot of guys for a lot of various reasons.

First off, they use most of the same muscle groups to get the job done.  Hams, hips, glutes, lower back, upper back, and quads (the deadlifts to a lesser degree obviously).  A few problems with program design involving both big movements is overlap and overtraining of the low back, which can be slow to recover.  So lets look at some common ways these usually get laid out and discuss the benefits and drawbacks.

Squatting and Deadlifting in the same workout -

This is a very controversial topic.  Ok so it's not really controverial but for some reason it causes a lot of lifters angst.  So let's clear the air on this.

It's fine to squat and pull in the same workout.

There.  Controversy over.

Seriously, I love squatting and pulling together and do it in most of my splits.  It's like two great tastes that go great together (there's another Reece's peanut butter cup reference for you).

Benefits of squatting and deadlifting on the same day -

I think the most obvious benefit to squatting and pulling in the same workout is that the lower back gets a full week to recover before it is taxed again.  This is one of the reasons I find myself coming back to this split. Squats serve as a great warm up to pulling and you can keep dealdifting volume pretty low. So after your squats you can just go to a medium heavy warm up on deads for a set then pull heavy. If you are a competitive lifter this also will let you know what you are going to be pulling in a more fatigued state. So you should have a better idea of what you are going to be capable of in a meet.

The excuse that you can't squat and deadlift in the same workout is weak. Andy Bolton squats and deadlifts heavy in the same workout, and so does Konstantinovs and they are stronger than you.

Drawback wise, I don't see many if any drawbacks with squatting and deadlifting in the same session. You can squat light one week and deadlift heavy the other if your deadlift needs more work. You can squat heavy and pull light the next. Squatting and deadlifting pretty much serves as a complete lower body workout. Everything gets hit very hard and thoroughly.

Squatting and deadlifting on the same day also gives you the rest of the week to get all of your work in. You can bench on one day and then do back and bicep work on the other, or if you just want to train twice a week, you can do bench, bench assistance, and then your rows and chins as well. This works just fine too.

Some examples of squat and deadlifting together -

2 days a week training -

Squat - heavy or light
Deadlift - heavy or light
Abs/Hams/Low Back


3 days a week training -

Squat - heavy or light
Deadlift - heavy or light
Abs/Hams/Low Back



4 days a week training (if you must) -

Squat - heavy or light
Deadlift - heavy or light


Low Back


Squatting and Deadlifting separately -

This one seems to be more common. It's the old school squat/bench/deadlift on separate days routine. This also is a good solid plan and has been used by many championship lifters throughout the years.

Benefits of squatting and deadlifting on separate days -

The obvious benefit of doing squats and deadlifts on different days is that you can pour all of your energy into each lift, without the deadlift taking a backseat after you squat. The other benefit to that is you can use all of your assistance work just for that lift right afterwards, or you can do a variation of the other lift and essentially get two "squat" and two "deadlift" workouts in all in 1 week.

The drawback to breaking them up over a week period is that the lower back gets beat up on pretty badly three times in a 7-8 days period. If you squat on monday and deadlift on friday, then when you squat on the following monday that means you will have taxed your lower back hard three times in a week of training. For some people this is too much and eventually will find that they can't recover from this kind of split without some regulation built in.

What I recommend to remedy this a slight bit, is to have 4 different training sessions but split them across 10 days. This way you at least get a 4 day break from squatting or pulling every other week. See in one of the examples below. Another possibility is to take two days off between each squat and deadlift workout in order to provide for more recovery.

Some examples of squat and deadlifting on separate days -

Monday - Squat
Wednesday - Bench
Friday - Deadlift

Monday - Squat
Wednesday - Bench
Friday - Deadlift
Monday - Bench assistance
Wednesday - start the cycle over

Monday - Squat
X2 off
Thursday - Bench
X1 off
Saturday - Deadlift
X2 off
Tuesday - Squat
x2 off, etc

Squatting and deadlifting on alternate weeks -

This one isn't quite as popular. One week you squat, the next week you deadlift. This is a split obviously based around maximum recovery for each lift. This particular split in my opinion, is probably best served for advanced guys or someone who has previous injuries that keeps them from squatting and pulling too often.

Benefits of squatting and deadlifting on separate days -

The biggest benefit was touched on. Recovery. If you are squatting and pulling in the 500-600-700+ then this is the kind of split you could really benefit from. When I use this split I always look forward to pulling and squatting without fail. You feel very fresh on the movement and generally have more pop than when pulling AND squatting heavy both, in the same week.

The drawbacks here are physical and mental. For guys without great technique this split wouldn't afford them enough practice with the lifts. Two squat workouts and two deadlift workouts in a month probably isn't enough for the novice or intermediate lifter.

The other one is the mental aspect of it. Some guys just can't get their head around pulling and squatting only twice a month. It does work, however mentally some guys could struggle with not doing both each week. The other drawback is that if you are using this in preparation for a meet, you need to be very accurate with your planning. You don't have a lot of room to get liberal because you have less room for error.

Some examples of squat and deadlifting -

Uhhhh....Squat one week and uh, deadlift the next week. 7 days in between. So if you squatted on Saturday, you would deadlift the next Saturday. That's it.

Conclusion -

Find which split works best for your mind and your body. Always take into account the overlap that the squat and deadlift have with each other, both in planning your split and planning your assistance work. Remember that overworking one of these lifts will also mean you're really overworking them both. A proper squat and deadlift setup will compliment each other.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Random thoughts about training, life, crap, and stuff

Will be using a little bit different format for this from now on.  Just like the title reads, random thoughts........

  • In less than a week we got to Vegas for vacation.  We haven't had a vacation in two years and it's amazing how fast time gets away from you when you have a "life" going on with kids and work and lifting and everything else.  One thing I like to do on vacation is have NO PLANS.  We get there, and that's it.  A blank piece of paper.  I use vacation to actually relax and unwind.  I can't stand going on vacation with someone who has an itinerary.  Life forces me into an itinerary.  The last thing I want vacation to do is tell me I have to be somewhere at a certain time so I can "see something" or someone.  I generally sit out at the beach pool and go to sleep.  Then go eat, then go back to the room and go to sleep.  Then repeat a similar pattern the whole week.  It may sound boring to some, but when I get back from vacation I feel like a new man.  
  • Kansas sucks for weather.  You get like 2 weeks of spring where it's not raining.  Then summer is hot and humid as hell.  Fall is ok for about 17 minutes, then it rains and the rain stops, and it's like 9 below for 4 months.  If you like seasons, you'll love Kansas.  If you hate sucky weather, you'll hate it.  
  • I've been sick this week but still got training in and believe it or not had a couple of nice sessions.  I am really beginning to think there is something to this whole "training in a relaxed state" thing.  I did the 100's x 22 on flat bench and 90's x 15 (I think) overhead sick on 900-1100 calories a day without much thought.  I did this just as a "gotta get something in" afterthought.  
  • I really finally realize that my lower back is the real issue holding back my deadlift.  Nothing in training really screamed this out to me, I just realized that my abs and low back aren't getting as much out of squats and deads alone as they used to.  It's time to really put in some time strengthening both of those areas to get ready for the meet in August.  I am going to make an effort to get my abs, obliques, and low back as strong as possible in that time and I believe I will see the rewards in my squat and dead for it.  The center of your power starts in that area, and while just squats and deads have gotten me by for a long time now I believe to move them up another level will require a little bit of special work.  There is a low back machine at the gym and I am going to see if I can get up to moving the whole stack for reps easily.  For abs I will be doing two exercises to start each training session (except on squat and dead day).  I think generally we tend to gravitate towards things that are comfortable in our training and avoid the things that cause us to feel weak and provide discomfort.  I need to shake that shit off and get busy with this.
  • Sometimes you just gotta let go of shit.  Without the ability to do that you only drive yourself crazy and others around you crazy too.  Whether that's a job thing or a personal life thing, at some point in your life you reach a juncture where if you don't let go of things that can no longer be changed you will spiral downwards.  Into what?  I dunno, but it can't be anything good.  
  • If my elbows didn't hurt I would have benched 475+ by now.  Is elbow surgery replacement available yet?  
  • Women in their 30's are CRAZY!  That's all I will say.  I know why, but it's still shocking to hear the things I hear from them sometimes.  
  • After not traveling more than 1 time a year for years on end generally, this year I am going to Vegas twice (more than likely), California once, and Ohio once.  I'm going to feel like I'm back in the military!
  • Tiff is having a garage sell and it never amazes me the shit you collect over the years and the shit people will buy from you.  I laughed to myself as I watch them outside the window, wondering if someone would buy some hardened cow turds if I sat some out on a table.  I think it makes good fertilizer so I think I know the answer to this.  
  • People defend training styles on the net like they are defending their countries freedom.  If you say that you aren't a fan of X or Y training, people go ape shit!  Like you are the Taliban and they will reign down a Godly firestorm on your ass for saying that.  It's just lifting weights.  It's ok to agree to disagree.  
  • 35 is ok.  I hated waking up 35 but it's not been too bad so far.  I am dreading 40 though.  I think at 35 I can still NOT be that creepy old guy if I am flirty (and I usually am just by nature).  At some point I have to stop though, and I think 40 is where it has to end.  I have no choice.  It has to end at 40.  So I have to get in as much now as I can!  
  • I tried decline skull crushers the other night hoping they would not hurt my elbows.........and they did.  It makes me sad that I can't do skullies anymore.  They were my favorite tricep exercise for years and years.  But I fully believe they are the reason my elbows hurt most of the time now.  I used to laugh at "older" lifters that told me to avoid them.  Now I think at how wise they are and how stupid I was.  But that's the way of the fool.  Learn from your own mistakes instead of everyone else's.  
  • The longer I go without having pulled 700 the more weak and wimpy I feel.  I vow to deadlift 700 in the next 12 months.  Someone remind me every so often please.  The only good thing is when I pull 700 I should be squatting 700 too and that is pretty good for 250 raw I think.  Of course, when I get there I will frown because I'm not doing 800.  I just know it.  I think sometimes reaching goals is the least rewarding thing because you always feel like there is another level you want to be at.  Remind me of why Alexander wept..........
  • I can't wait to get back to fighting after this meet is over.  I've had a long enough hiatus and I look forward to knocking the living shit out of my Russian friend Vitaly over and over again and getting stabbed in the stomach...............twice. (true story)
  • The longer I diet again, the less I want to really eat.  At first it's the worst thing in the world but then after a long while you just don't care to eat much.  I understand how Jim is in this state now.  I could eat 2 or 3 times all day, and have very little, and feel just fine.  Of course when winter rolls around all of that changes but for now, it feels good again.  
  • I hate having to constantly plan my training templates around the injuries I have but I suspect this is the case with every 20+ year lifter.  
  • Everyone remember to call your mom this weekend.  It's mothers day.  Even if you aren't close with your mom or have a good relationship with her, she still gave birth to you.  
  • Thanks for reading.  :)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

5 reasons why your training can fail

People fail to reach their training goals more often than reach them.  There are 1 metric buttload of reasons why.  I can only cover 5 here.  Mainly because I only want to cover 5, and no more.

1.  Poor planning -

I think this is generally the culprit of all failed training programs.  I ask people how they will reach X and Y goals or why they are doing X and Y and they don't usually know.  I think of the analogy about the guy getting in his sailboat and just drifting out to sea without ever plotting his course.  Death awaits.  And so does the death of your program if you plan poorly.

Somali pirates will in fact, take over your crappy training plan and kill you.

2.  Unrealistic goals -

If you're 300 pounds and want to lose 100 pounds do not plan a 6 week diet for that.  If I tied you up in a cave and just brought you water and a slice of bread each day it might happen then (oh hell I just created the next fad diet.  The cave diet.  Lose all the weight you want in 6 weeks in the comfort of your cave.) but in all seriousness, be realistic about goal setting.  If you just deadlifted 500 after 10 years of serious training, you're not going to deadlift 600 in the next 6 weeks, or even 6 months more than likely.  Plan on deadlifting 505 next.  If you want to gain 10 pounds of mass you're not going to gain 10 pounds of lean mass without gaining around fat at a 1 to 1 ratio.  Understand the amount of calories you will have to eat and how hard you will have to work, and for how long, in order to do that.  Realistically 10 pounds of lean mass is a difficult chore for anyone besides a novice, in a single year. 

This guy will not be Jay Cutlers size in 90 days no matter what he does.

3.  Lack of motivation -

This person has the opposite disease of person #2.  Motivation doesn't come from a speaker or book or whatever.  It comes from within you wanting to change something for yourself.  Motivation will wane if it comes from an external source that doesn't have a significant place in your life.  If you want to quit smoking, for example, you won't quit until you WANT to quit.  And I mean REALLY want it.  This is an identifiable trait.  I have found that determined people are excited about talking about their goals.  They will tell you without you asking.  The wanna-be might mention "I really wanna quit smoking" in a passing kind of way.  This is generally not a motivated person.  If you are honest with yourself you'll know if you are ready or not.  Until you are, don't even attempt it.  It's better to bob about in a sea of uncertainty and save your energy than to paddle half ass and waste the small bit you do have.  When you make a goal you'll know if you are serious or not.  Again, be honest with yourself, that will tell you what you need to know.

4.  Too much information -

People say you can never know too much.  Boy that isn't true.  There is more paralysis by analysis regarding training and diet nowadays than ever.  Of course the net is to blame for that.  No carb, low carb, carb-cycling, south beach, weight watchers, atkins, on and on and on.  Then there is a training program for every possible body you could want.  From a beach body to looking like the Hulk, all in 60 or 90 days or whatever.  After a while someone trying to do honest research and make a solid plan could get information overload.  There are some basic truths we know about eating and training.  These things are for certain. 

If you take in fewer calories than you use in a day you will lose weight.  If you are certain you meet this criteria (and I mean FOR CERTAIN) and are not losing weight, talk to your doctor.  This is a basic physiological fact.  So if that is not working you may have another issue that you may need help with. 

If you eat more than you are using you'll gain weight. 

Everything else is up for discussion.  So any good weight gain/weight loss plan should start at what you're doing at the table.  Keep your plan simple and start with calories in vs out and go from there.

5.  Life -

Sometimes you just gotta play the game...

Let's face it, life happens.  Sometimes you are doing everything right, and life just interferes.  But lets be straight about what that means.  I'm not talking about the things you are supposed to be doing like going to work, being a good father or mother or husband or wife.  That's what you are SUPPOSED to do.  I'm not talking about you saying how busy you are and just can't find the time to train or eat right.  Or getting nicked up in training or are tired of being sore.  For the love of God suck it up.  I hate excuses.  No, I'm talking about LIFE like your child gets sick and is in the hospital or a death in the family or you have to relocate or lose your job or are in an accident.  Things that REALLY impact your life.  In this case, pick up where you left off when you can.  No one can plan for these things obviously and it's far more important to take care of those things when they come up than worry about training at that time.  When my wife had her hip replacement I got to the gym when I lifted when I could and never worried about it.  Taking care of her was more important and now she's 110% (literally as she has never had a sound physiological until now) and things are better than ever.  Remember in the grand scheme of life to leave behind a legacy bigger and better than lifting weights and being fit.  At least kill someone or make a sex tape that people will remember.  That will keep you on the map for a lot longer than being in good shape.  

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

What constitutes weak -

We had the "what constitutes strong" post, might as well have one for what constitutes weak..........

  • Dance and easy listening music on the radio in the gym
  • No chalk in the gym
  • No deadlifting in the gym
  • Guys who are "only" guys.  Bench only, grip only, etc.  Weak shit.
  • Curling in the squat rack.  
  • Guys who accuse anyone stronger than them of being on steroids 
  • People who won't squat and deadlift
  • Chronic routine changers
  • Guys who worry about "medial delts" that can't overhead press their bodyweight 
  • Guys who worry about strengthening every freaking weak point when they can't even squat 500.  That's why you can't squat 500.    
  • War story guys (I used to be as strong as you) and guys who quit.  Save your F'n excuses (they always have em).  If you didn't have the sack to stay under the iron keep your opinions to yourself ass clown.  Both in real life, and on the net.  

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Phase 3 Powerlifting

I have been working pretty diligently on a program for my upcoming meet and I am going to put my plan into action.  I believe this is going to be an awesome way to train for meets and hitting new PR's.  Some of the things I have spent several months looking at for this program...

  • rep correlations in regards to maximum strength and how accurate they can be
  • problems associated with the initial stages of linear periodization and how these can be remedied 
  • problems associated with the last few weeks of periodization and fixes for these as well
  • short cycles within a longer cycle that will always let you know where you are in terms of your 1-rep max within a few pounds.  These cycles also build on each other allowing you to plan properly for the next cycle. 
  • a system that lets you work with heavy enough loads that your top level strength stays intact but doesn't burn you out by exceeding certain thresholds too often.
  • factors in rep work for your big lifts to allow for hypertrophy throughout the entire training cycle and increases your 1RM as well. 
  • How to use your opener and second attempts weights to actually build for that big third attempt and know whether you are really good for it. 
  • How not to leave reps on the table that help build your 1RM faster.
I'm still fine tuning this whole thing but as noted, I will be using it for my meet and I'm pretty excited about it.  I fully believe in peaking your lifts and believe for raw guys this is the best way to prepare.  However most peaking programs I have used have flaws because they don't account for the varying wave of strength levels throughout the cycle.

What if you are having a crap day and miss what was planned?  Did you get too liberal with your planned max (a common mistake of guys who fail with linear programs)?  What now?  Chalk it up to a bad or sweat not being able to make the lift at the meet?

As noted, I'm fine tuning this thing but I really think it's going to be pretty awesome once I get all of the kinks out.  Will write more about it as I iron things out.   

Training log updated


Sunday, May 2, 2010

Please welcome Chuck Miller

I would like to welcome my good friend Chuck Miller to functional-strength. Chuck and I go back a long ways and Chuck is a fantastic lifter with a wealth of knowledge. He will downplay that but make no mistake, he's a smart guy and has the goods to back it up. Chuck should total 1500 or close to it raw this year at 198. Chuck will be posting his training log here and hopefully share some of the knowledge he has accumulated from 376 years of powerlifting training.

His first log entry is in, and can be checked via the link on the right side of the page (you should be able to figure this out).

Thanks again Chuckers.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Maximizing Training Economy

I gotta admit, one of my reasons for being as basic as possible is training economy. I don't just mean hitting the most muscle with the fewest amount of movements, I mean making as few changes during training as possible. For example if I am going to do good mornings, it's almost always after squats. Because if you're done with squatting you can leave everything in place, take a few plates off, and go right into good mornings. Total lower body workout done and you never even moved the bar from its place in the rack. I think in some ways I am actually lazy, which may sound strange coming from a guy that does as much conditioning as I do, but ease of training is a big deal to me. Sometimes I lift at home, and while I have a decent setup for all I need to do, I also have to be mindful of how many changes I need to make to keep training in a decent time frame.

So with that said, how can you setup your routine to maximize training economy? Not just from a movement standpoint, but from a convenience standpoint as well?

Squat Day -

Warm up - Lunges, foam rolling, stretching

Squats - King of all lower body movements yada yada yada. No need to belabor the point of how awesome squats are, we already know. So you work up to whatever you're doing for squats. Take 20% off and do...

Pause Squats -
Sit rock bottom, count in your head "1...2...3" and explode off of the bottom. Do however many sets and reps your heart desires. Take 20% off and do...

Front Squats -
Rinse and repeat here. I am a crappy front squatter and personally hate this exercise but I do it because it's supposed to be good for me. Leave the weight, or take another 10-15% off, and transition right into...

Good Mornings -
Through the "Wendler diaries" (some 700 reply e-mail Jim and I had going for a while) Jim and I discussed how lighter good mornings seemed to carry more benefits than heavy good mornings. In the past I worked up to some pretty heavy good mornings (heavy for me), in the 425-455 range for reps. This offered zero carryover to my deadlift. I also never felt the movement very well because I was so cautious with that much weight on my back in that position. When I go lighter I can really stretch everything out and I get terribly sore in the hamstrings from this. Try em light for a while and see if they feel better.

1-Legged Calf Raises - Just find a block or steps and do some.

Total lower body thrashing done and you never moved the bar. You just warmed up, and unloaded it then changed the movement slightly based on load.

Upper Body Push/Pull #1

Bench Press -
You know the drill here. After this take off 20% and do...

Close Grip Bench - Do some sets here. Take off a little less or leave it the same and do...

Reverse Grip Bench - Bet you thought I was gonna say wide grip bench? I am. Next. However do some sets with a wide reverse grip first, take some weight off then do...

Wide Grip Bench - Be careful on these as they are a little stressful on the shoulders. Just don't go to heavy.

Without taking any weight off the bar, stand on the bench and do your rows from there. Do not heave the weight, but get a good stretch at the bottom and pull with control.

Shoulder width barbell rows -As the name implies, shoulder width. If you need to add weight back do so after a few warm up sets.

Wide Grip Barbell Rows -These are harder obviously. But great for the rear delts as well.

Curl Grip Rows -Rinse and repeat. Yes all from standing on the bench. Look if it was good enough for Arnold it's good enough for you.

Good enough for the govna'.

If that's not enough you can take some weight off and lay back down on the bench and do...

JM Press or Skullies - Not great for the elbows but some people love em.

Barbell Curls - From here you could do....wait. You're in the rack, nevermind.


Deadlift Training -

Power Cleans - You can start here. Work up to some nice singles or triples, whatever. Add weight...

Block Deadlifts - These have turned into a favorite of mine. Block deads have taken my deadlift from the high 500's into the almost mid 600's. Just make sure and pull from below the knee. If there is anything that drives me crazy its guys pulling from above the knee with a 1 inch range of motion that has ZERO carryover to their deadlift from the floor. Work up to a top single or triple then move the boxes out of the way and do...

Deadlifts from the floor -Surprise surprise. As you take plates off and the load gets lighter transition right into...

Shrugs - Traps make the man. Just make sure you aren't doing that shitty half-inch bounce up and down thing I see some guys do. Contract the traps hard at the top then stretch em good at the bottom. Take some weight off and get into...

Stiff legged deadlifts -Same as with good mornings here, just worry about the stretch instead of overloading this movement.

Your entire backside should be trashed after this. This is good.

Shoulder and Chest Work on the elevator -

For this you only need one pair of medium-heavy dumbbells. I suggest only medium heavy because the rest will be minimal here.

Seated dumbbell press - Warm up with some dumbbells and go all out with the pair you select. Adjust the bench slightly downwards, taking only the time to put the dumbbells down, adjust the bench, get back on the horse and do...

High Incline Db Press - Again, go all out here. You might not get a ton of reps because this is still a lot of shoulder work, and they will be fatigued from the overheads. That's ok. Do what you can, then put em down and adjust the bench downwards again and do...

Incline Db Press - This should be at that normal incline height you see in the gym. Around 45 degrees or so. You might feel stronger out of the gate on this one as you are getting warmer and the pecs come into play more as the angle has decreased. Lower it a bit again and do...

Low Incline Db Press - Now you see why you need to be smart in dumbbell selection? Make it into a flat bench after this set and of course...

Flat Dumbbell Bench - This is the finishing point so go all out here. Which might not be much at this point. That's ok, this was good work.

Dumbbell Rows - Stick with the same pair of dumbbells. You did 5 adjustments on the bench, so match that with at least 5 sets of dumbbell rows. Get some work in here to make sure you at LEAST match all of your pulling reps. So if you ended up with 40 reps on the presses, get as least 40 reps in here. Doing double the amount of reps you did on the presses is highly recommended.

Cross Bench Db Pullovers - Lay across the bench and do these. These stretch the pecs, lats, and triceps out really well and even work the abs. This is great training economy.

Conclusion -

I put a lot of these ideas to work in my own training each week. It makes training convenient and fun (those words are synonymous with me). This whole layout could easily be your routine for mass/powerlifting/whatever. Everything is hit from top to bottom. If you are pressed for time you can easily cut it down to fewer things, or if you are having an awesome training day, you can add more and play with it. Either way, I find these sort of training very appealing and productive.