Bearded Beast of Duloc
Join Date: Jul 2009
Training Exp: 20+ years
Training Type: Powerbuilding
Fav Exercise: Deadlift
Fav Supp: Butter
The Best O-Lifts and the Push Press
T NATION: Okay, what's one lift the hypertrophy-focused guy needs to learn from the Olympic-lifting world?
Pendlay: Either cleans or snatches. Preferably both. If you can't do a full snatch, then do a power snatch. Do some sort of explosive pull, then drop the bar. If you can't drop the bar in your gym, then at least lower it in a way that you're not getting a huge eccentric load.
For upper body development, people should focus more on push presses, where the weight moves fast and explosively. I want people push-pressing every week.
There's also a ton of value for the average guy who wants to get more muscular to pull a sled or push a Prowler. Everyone who wants hypertrophy should emphasize those things more than they do now.
T NATION: Break down the push press for us. Why should the bodybuilder use it instead of, say, a military press?
Pendlay: The push press has more carryover to pressing in general – bench press etc. – than any other upper body exercise. Show me a guy who can push press a big weight and he's going to be able to excel at any other pressing movement, even if he's never done it before.
A big bench presser doesn't get that same carryover. I don't want to have 400-pound bench pressers who can't do anything else. The guy who can do heavy push presses doesn't have that problem. He's strong at everything.
And that can't be done with the strict military press either. It's too hard to get it moving. You have such a weak point at the start that it limits the amount of weight you can use.
With a push press, you can put 10 to 20% more weight over your head. You're forced to develop the ability to recruit those muscle fibers very quickly because you're pushing the bar off your shoulders with your legs and then your arms have to come into play, fast, so it doesn't stall. The ability to do that is very, very valuable.
Second, with the push press there's just a huge overload at the top. That last six inches at the top is like doing a partial. That has a powerful effect on the body.
T NATION: Wow, time to start push pressing more often! Give us the important points of how you want to see people push press.
Pendlay: They have to rack the bar correctly. Most people rest it on their clavicles, but what they need to do is shrug their shoulders up, putting their elbows slightly forward so the bar is resting on their deltoids. Then they have to stay on their heels and use and dip and drive.
After the leg drive, they have to push with their arms immediately, not pause for three seconds. Think rate of force production. It's also very important to end with the weight behind your head, not in front of it. At the very least, a vertical line dropped from the bar should pass behind the ears, and you should pause momentarily at the top, every rep.
T NATION: Explosive training is making a comeback, so to speak, in hypertrophy training. Why exactly?
Pendlay: Explosive movements teach your muscles to "turn on." Everybody should do explosive movements!
If you get better at explosive movements then you're going to get more out of your other training. If you get better at jumping on a box then you're going to get more benefit from squatting because your nervous system is going to be tuned up to utilize every available motor unit.
If you can turn on an extra 10 or 20% of motor units when you're squatting, you're going to get more benefit out of it. The easiest form of explosive training is to just jump on a plyo box.
T NATION: Give us an example of explosive training.
Pendlay: I'm looking out my office window right now. I see football players doing explosive, clap-style push-ups. What we do is, we make two stacks of two 25 kilo bumper plates. They do a push-up explosively and land with their hands on the bumper plates, about five or six inches off the ground. From there they push up again and land back on the floor.
That type of exercise is a huge complement to bench-pressing if your goal is to have a bigger chest and shoulders.
I see some other guys doing a medicine ball drill where one kid is standing on a box and throwing a ten-pound ball at another kid who's lying on the floor. He throws the ball back up as fast as he can, no pause. Again, it's sort of a bench press movement.
Bench presses are slow and heavy. The push-up drill is faster since you're using only body weight. Then you have the med ball drill, which is light and fast. The lesson: You need to train at different speeds. From heavy, heavy, slow bench presses to throwing a ten-pound medicine ball as fast as you can.
Put all this together and what does it mean? It means that we get a guy who weighs 180 with a 30-inch vertical and pretty soon he weighs 200 with a 35-inch vertical... and he's leaner. If he's a football player then he's going to be able to push people off the line. A 500 pound bench press isn't going to do him much good if he's slow.
He's not only added muscle, he's ramped up his nervous system. It allows him to use the muscle he has more effectively. He doesn't just get bigger. He gets bigger and faster and stronger, all at the same time.
T NATION: Train at different speeds. Got it. And you break that down into three speeds, basically?
Pendlay: Yes. The guy who's having trouble getting bigger and stronger and leaner is going into the gym and training one speed. What he needs to do is train at a variety of speeds: explosive, super explosive (medicine ball), medium-level plyos (body-weight box jumping), and alsodo squats and bench presses.
He'll look better and be a better athlete. In athletics, speed kills. The Olympic lifts are a big part of training at different speeds. They're in between deadlifting and jumping.
The Rule and the Row
T NATION: Any general rule with the Olympic lifts for those of us not training under the watchful eye of a coach?
Pendlay: If you miss the lift three times, stop. No matter how good you feel. Three strikes and you're out. Also, use the Internet. There are a number of pretty good tutorials on how to learn the lifts.
T NATION: Not many coaches have exercises named after them. You do. What are Pendlay Rows?
Pendlay: Well, I didn't give them this name myself. Someone else started calling them that and it kind of got traction.
Basically, this came about because I advocated doing rows in such a way as to keep the back parallel or near parallel to the floor the whole lift, return the bar to the floor between each rep, and explosively attempt to flex the thorasic spine on each rep. Very different than a standard barbell row.
T NATION: Any final tips for the T NATION audience?
Pendlay: One way or another, you need to be able to explosively lift a bar and drop it.
And if you can figure out a way to train more frequently, then you'll get better results. Period. Olympic lifts either have no eccentric component or a very small eccentric component, so you can do them pretty damn often. And "pretty damn often" means better results.
Lastly, I've always said that people do too damn many exercises, and they don't concentrate on the ones they do correctly. Take just about any college strength program for football. You'd be better off if you randomly crossed out half the exercises, then spent your time doing the ones that are left correctly and with focus.
Destroy That Which Destroys You
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