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Atomic Athletic Blog

  • Super-Heavy Dumbbell Bench Presses by David Shaw

    Some years ago, when I was stuck at a 440 pound Bench Press, I searched for exercises that would boost my power on the Bench Press. I noticed that for some, it was various triceps exercises, however no one had a one size fits all exercise. In my case, I did heavy dips with up to a 150 pound dumbbell attached to my waist, then my elbows began to hurt, skull crushers ended with the same result, so for me I had to look elsewhere for a compound movement that would work more than the triceps, but would engage the chest, shoulders (anterior) front deltoid, and the triceps without placing the elbows in a position that with added weight while performing exercises, caused pain.

     

    I settled on the Dumbbell Bench Press.  The only mention of these over the years was by Dr. Ken

    Dr. Ken Leistner Pressing Dr. Ken Leistner pressing a custom Shot Loading Globe Barbell from Atomic Athletic.

    Leistner, where he did them also, increasing his Bench Press. The only equipment needed is a good solid bench that will not tip over as you sit on the edge getting the dumbbells in place, and returning them to the floor, and some heavy fixed dumbbells, or bars used for dumbbells, that plates up to 20 or 25 pounds can be used on.

    http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/long-dumbbell-bar-collars.html

    When I mentioned Super-Heavy in the title, I worked up to 200 pound dumbbells in each hand for two reps. I trained by myself, so there was no luxury of a partner that handed the dumbbells to me. I would sit on the end of a solid bench, bend over, grab first the right dumbbell, and place it on my inner thigh, and then grab the second dumbbell, and do the same thing on the left side. Then, sit on the bench, tighten the dumbbells to my chest and with control, lay down on the bench. This is not a bodybuilding dumbbell bench press, so the palms of the hands need to face each other, and not out away from each other as in the bodybuilding movement. By holding the dumbbells palms facing each other, there is more of a stretch at the bottom, as the dumbbells come down to the sides of the chest. This converts to a powerful push off of the chest when doing Bench Presses.

    http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/limited-edition-brass-thick-dumbbell-handle.html

    I did these twice weekly, heavy on my heavy Bench press day, and moderate on my moderately

    David Shaw Powerlifter David Shaw Powerlifter

    heavy Bench Press day. Repetitions were for example. 90x5, 100x5, 110x5, 120x5,5, this would be on the heavy day. Moderately heavy would be 90x5, 100x5, 110x 5,5,5

     

    The important thing here is to find a rep range that works for you, and push toward heavier and heavier dumbbells. On this routine, my regular Bench Press went to 485 pounds in training, I then substituted Close –Grip Bench presses (able to use more weight) as my assistance movement, and went to 523 pounds in competition. One important fact not to be overlooked is, if you are increasing body-weight, expect some dramatic changes in your upper body. You may go up a size or two in shirt size. By doing this movement heavy, you will not be disappointed.

  • New Masters Lifting Writer

    “Rog, start sending me everything you can find with old guys lifting.” I don't get requests like that. I really don't get that sort of request from genuine icons of strength.

    David Shaw Powerlifter
    David Shaw Powerlifter

    Coming up will be, what I am hoping, is the first of many, many articles by a “new” master writer. No, I have not raised Bob Hoffman from the dead, although I am sure he is still clutching his pen, but this guy has done some great writing and a lot of serious lifting.

    http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/books-and-videos/strength-health-magazine-package-special.html

    I know, you are thinking that this will be some Olympic weightlifting guy that I have known for years.

    Wrong.

    This guy is from the world of powerlifting. He has set 5 world records. He has won the Nationals and been in the Guinness Book of World Records. While he did all the amazing things you can read about on the inter-webs, he was training alone in his garage and pushing his education through two Master's Degrees.

    Guess where he lifts today? In his garage.

    While he no longer competes, he still lifts. He could lift in a modern corporate facility, which he happens to manage for a major, large corporation, but he doesn't.

    I know you are wondering who he is. Well, it's David Shaw.

    Let me tell you one of the coolest things about David Shaw. It isn't his past records or tales from meets back in the day. Sure, those are interesting things, but not nearly so cool as the day called me up, with an urgency in his voice and asked for that info on old guys. I asked, “Why? You did more than the old guys.”

    http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/books-and-videos/usawa-2000-nationals-dvd.html

    “I'm sorry, you misunderstand me,” he very politely said. “I want to see what guys are actually lifting and breaking records at, who are 60, 70 or a 100 years old. This is what I am going to aim for.” So, Dave is building his list. Some of his information is old, like his reports on what Ed Zercher did. Some is very recent, like the footage and results from my 2012 Atomic Athletic Great Black Swamp Olde Time Strongman Picnic. So, as Dave gets older, he will be looking at what guys did, and are doing, at his current age, even if the guy he's competing against has been dead for 50 years. Dave is constantly adapting, changing and trying to improve on what has worked in the past, with some very definite goals in mind. That's really cool.

    Because of his attitude, I had to get him to write for me. This weekend you will have Dave's first article. It's a short piece on dumbbell benching. Don't worry, everyone will get something out it, regardless of your age. Dave writes from a position of ageless truth.

    All the best,
    Roger LaPointe
    “Today is a good day to lift.”

  • Garage Gym Dumbbell Construction

    Every lifter would love to have a full set of dumbbells in their garage. Regardless of what you consider a full set to be, workouts are simply smoother, faster and more efficient when you can pull

    DIY Pro-Style Dumbbells Building your own Pro-Style Dumbbells with SDH Handles & End Caps

    the exact weight dumbbell right off a rack. As an equipment supplier and dealer I have seen every type of dumbbell you can imagine at every price range.

    2 REASONS

    You are one of two types of individual if you are still reading this Bomb Proof Bulletin.

    Back Weighted Dumbbells: You might be the guy who wants to make up dumbbells that really can't be found in the configuration you want. Maybe you want to make pro-style dumbbells that are “Back Weighted” or otherwise built with some other strange configuration, like with 25 Pound Plates. There aren't any manufacturers who will do that for you, but you can build them yourself with a set of Pro-Style or SDH handles.

    Dumbbell Category: http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/dumbbells.html

    The Money Guy: Let's face it, if you are putting together a “set” of dumbbells, it will require

    DIY Pro-Dumbbell Set SDH Pro-Style Dumbbell Handle Set with Steel End Plates

    hundreds, if not thousands of pounds of weight. Heck, a pair of 100s adds up to 200 pounds. Cast iron is generally not free. So, until money starts growing on trees or you cash in that winning lottery ticket, this set of dumbbells is going to represent some greenbacks.

    Building your own set of dumbbells can be a labor of love, but a good way to start is by turning your Standard Size Plates into Pro-Style Dumbbells. To do that, you need to pick up SDH Dumbbell Handles. They come in a variety of styles, but the ones we sell at Atomic Athletic are fully lathe turned in Canada. That means they start off with a single solid chunk of steel and end up with a dumbbell handle. To my knowledge, all the ones you find from China have “press fit” inside collars. That's not good. While you don't ever want to drop your dumbbells, it can happen. A press fit collar will slide.

    http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/pro-style-dumbbell-handles-set-sdh-2-pair-with-chrome-steel-end-plates.html

    We also do our sets with a chromed steel counter-sunk end cap, instead of the washer you typically see on the end of many dumbbells. This is much nicer if you want to set your dumbbells on your thighs. You won't have that bolt protruding into your leg. I do not recommend rubberized end caps. The rubberized ones are basically the same size as our steel ones (different manufacturers vary somewhat), the issue most people don't think about is that the rubber surface is not structural, so your hard inner part is very small. That inner part is also frequently made of cast iron, instead of steel. That small piece of cast iron inside the rubber is thin and brittle.

    Basically, a lot of my customers have a variety of standard size (plates that fit a 1 inch diameter bar) plates sitting in the corner rusting away. Use those plates. Turn them into a dumbbell set. Some guys will also buy up plates at garage sales and used sporting goods stores. Believe me, I would like to sell you plates, but there is a cost to ship weight, in addition to the cost of the plates themselves. Don't forget that there are different size SDH Dumbbell Handles. Each size will hold a different number of plates, for example an SDH-1 goes from 5-20 pounds with the York Pro-Style Plates, while the SDH-2 holds from 25-40 pounds and so on. They only go up to SDH-8 size.

    http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/dumbbells/gym-dumbbells.html

    These are just some ideas. Enjoy building your dumbbell set!

    All the best,
    Roger LaPointe
    “Today is a good day to lift.”

  • Masters Dumbbell Techniques

    Here is a quick dumbbell tip for the masters age guys.  Trust me, I'm there with you.  This comes from genuine personal experience.

    Mix up your speeds with dumbbells.

    For example, within the same workout, do an “Explosive”, then a “Slow”, then

    Olympic dumbbell clean & jerk Olympic dumbbell clean & jerk

    a “Therapy” lift. You might also follow the “Slow” lift with an Explosive Barbell Lift, then do your Therapy lift.

    http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/adjustable-olympic-dumbbell-handle.html

    The Sequence
    2 Dumbbell Clean & Jerk 5 x 5
    Single Dumbbell Clean with 5 Presses (Right then Left)
    Dumbbell Preacher Curls 3 x 10 (Light Weight)

    For the Barbell Lift, I love to work in some fast Power Jerks 5 x 3

    Dumbbell Cleans can cramp up the biceps. Don't think of the curls as a bodybuilding exercise. Think of them as a recovery exercise. In fact, as an alternate, you might try one of the many variations on a curl bar. There are a million different curl bars out there and each one will hit you differently. I see too many guys tearing biceps while doing “strongman” type training. I don't think they are working the flexibility and full range of motion work with their arms.

    http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/collars-olympic-2-spin-locks-from-york-barbell-pair.html

    Especially as a Masters Age lifter, you need to be thinking about prepping for the next workout and doing everything you can to accelerate recovery.

    All the best,
    Roger LaPointe
    "Today is a good day to lift."

  • Man in the Arena by Teddy Roosevelt

     

    Heavyweight Boxer Billie Miske 1922
    Heavyweight Boxer Billie Miske lost to Jack Dempsey at Benton Harbor, MI in 1920. For the 3 round fight Dempsey won $55,000 and Miske $25,000.

    It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

    President Theodore Roosevelt

  • Regular or Decaf

    Morning Coffee at Atomic Athletic, with R2 D2 Morning Coffee at Atomic Athletic, with R2 D2

    I know you have been there too. I was moving kind of slowly this morning, the reasons are for an entirely different article. So, on the way into work, I stopped at Starbucks. Honestly, even their largest option isn't big enough today.

    Like many coffee shops, the local Bowling Green Starbucks is full of happy and very perky baristas who are quick to answer a question. I assume they get as much free coffee as they want. Anyway, the guy behind me asked for decaf...

    Silence. All movement, even time itself, seemed to stop.

    If you had beaned the girl at the cash register in the back of the head with a brick, she wouldn't have looked more stunned! It was a real “deer in the headlights” look. Amazing.

    Well, presented with that look, Mr. Decaf cheerfully asked how many people had gotten decaf coffee this morning.

    She yells to the drive-up window guy, “Joe, how many decafs this morning?”

    Joe didn't miss a beat, “None. But Steve had one at the counter.”

    To sum up, at 8:25 this morning, the BG Starbucks had sold two cups of decaf coffee. Which begs

    Barbell Hack Lift Barbell Hack Lift

    the question, why was that guy, or anybody, buying decaf coffee. I have heard all kinds of reasons for decaf over the years and they all sound wishy-washy to me. This is not where I ask, you, the reader for a good reason for decaf. I don't care. Don't send me your personal justification. I am an “All-In” kind of guy. Odds are, if you are an Atomic Athletic Bomb Proof Bulletin reader, then you are also the “All-In” type. Don't change. Embrace it.

    If you also wonder about Decaf Coffee people, then here is a workout for you. I call it the “Giant Bucket o'Coffee” Workout.

    Giant Bucket o'Coffee Workout
    Jog to the Gym
    Stretch & Swing Some Indian Clubs
    Hit the Heavy Bag for a few rounds.
    Snatch (Up to 80%) 5 x 3

    Giant Set – Go through this sequence 3 times.
    Over Head Squat 50% 10 Reps (Off the floor, not the rack)

    Barbell Hack Lift Barbell Hack Lift


    Barbell Hack Lift 5 Reps
    Trap Bar Deadlift 3 Reps

    Iron Boot Thai Knee Kicks 3 x 10
    Hanging Frog Kicks (off the chinning bar) 3 x 10

    Jog Home

    Get the first compiled Atomic Athletic Bomb Proof Bulletins in printed form: http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/book-atomic-athletic-bomb-proof-bulletins-compiled-volume-1.html

    All the best,
    Roger LaPointe
    “Today is a good day to lift.”

  • Cheap & Easy

    “Cheap and easy” is rarely a good thing.

    “Cheap and easy” are the only two positive descriptive terms for spring collars. Because they are cheap, they seem to be the favorites of most gym owners. Clearly, it is not because they work well. This is how they work. When they actually fit on a barbell end, you merely have to squeeze them

    Standard Size Allen Collar & Short Dumbell Bar Set Standard Allen Collar & Short Dumbell Bars

    and they slide right on. The benefits end there.

    As you may have guessed, this Atomic Athletic Bomb Proof Bulletin is about barbell and dumbbell collars. It's true, I am a little obsessive compulsive about the collars I use. Like many terms in this industry, it is easy to come up with innuendo, but I will try to keep things serious. Barbell and dumbbell collars have a genuine and serious purpose. They are meant to hold the plates on the end of your bar. Because of the ways barbells are used, relative to the ways dumbbells are used, I feel the issue is typically most serious for dumbbells.

    Two Types of Collars
    There are two types of collars: screw type collars and compression collars. Screw collars have what is called a set screw that is pressed into the bar end. Compression collars reduce the inside diameter of collar to hold the bar. There are several ways this can be accomplished.

    Spring Collars are a perfect example of a compression collar. Generally, I highly recommend a compression collar, except when it is a spring. Spring collars do not have a flat face, so your plates are always going to be floppy and loose. More than that, their springiness reduces over time and they eventually become so loose that they simply don't hold. Of course, that plays right into the other reason I hate them. I also dislike them from a business perspective. When I worked for York Barbell, we got them in loose shipments in giant wooden crates. I found that about thirty percent of them were so loose, right from the factory, that they had to be discarded. Someone had to stand there and try out every one, otherwise the customer would get bad collars. I really don't like spring collars.

    Spin-Lock Collars
    http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/collars-olympic-2-spin-locks-from-york-barbell-pair.html

    I like Spin-Lock Collars. The spin-lock collars most people are familiar with are used on Olympic bar

    York Barbell Spin-Lock Olympic Collars

    ends, have wing nuts, weigh about 5 pounds each and are easily identified by the large “star” shaped part. I sell the ones made by York Canada. I had one customer pissed off at me because York USA shows a crappy Chinese version on their web site. The photo in this bulletin is of the ones we sell. Anyway, they are lined with leather and the wing nuts compress the collar onto the bar. The spinning star shaped end is threaded on the inside and used for tightening the plates down. In an ideal world, this is the very best type of collar to use. In fact, it is the only type of collar I will use on Olympic Dumbbell Handles, especially for lifts like Dumbbell Cleans, the One Hand Dumbbell Snatch and most importantly on the One Hand Dumbbell Swing. I don't want plates that are loose, flopping around, or worse yet, sliding off. Any of those scenarios smack of danger, if you pardon the pun.

    Allen Collars
    I also have some awesome Stainless Steel Standard Size Allen Type Spin-Lock Collars. These

    Stainless Steel Super Allen Collars Stainless Steel Super Allen Collars

    are over kill and I love them.  Each collar has a double set (that's 4, if you're counting) of allen screws.  So, not only do these spin-lock, but you can anchor the spin-lock with a pair of allen screws.  These are now my favorite for the One Hand Dumbbell Swing.  For that lift, I actually use a proto-type pair of pro-style dumbbell bars, with steel end plates.  The way I set it up is with the end plate on the end that is sitting on the ground, then the other end gets the collar.  I have an old, as in antique, knurled dumbbell handle like you would get with the old York Barbell Aristocrat Set.  This is my spacer for grip.  Then the collar tightens everything down, so there is no slop or rotation.  You can see the lift at this link:

    http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/long-dumbbell-bar-collars.html

    Regular Allen Collars
    Our regular Standard Size Allen Collars are significantly cheaper than the ones above, but they are also compression type collars that hold like crazy. I use these all the time. For standard size bars, they have become my “go to” collars when I am making up a dumbbell, odd-ball barbell, leverage/mace set-up, you name it. They are really narrow with a single allen type counter-sunk screw that actually closes the ring size of the collar. The allen screw is very low profile, so it does not seem to catch on your clothes, like wrenchless screws can.

    Little Allen Collar Story
    Our Standard Size Allen Collars are made in the USA out of real spring steel. Back in 2007, the price went up on these, so I tried out a knock-off version that was made in India. My analysis was “total crap”. I know, not very scientific, but they had the size off by a couple thousandths... too small. I figured, I would just pry them open, maybe the spring steel had compressed in shipping. Wrong. They just broke. End of the knock-off test. I went back to my trusted American made steel and good old American machine shop and raised the price. There really is no substitute. Lesson learned.

    http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/collars-allen-collar-set-of-4.html

    Set Screw Collars
    We have many more collar types that fit into the set-screw category: Classic Red Wrenchless Screw Collars, Heavy Duty 3/4 Pound Wrenchless Screw Collars, Chrome Standard Barbell Collars, Olympic Allen Collars and many more.

    Once you use the right collars for the right job and then have to go to a buddy's place and use the wrong collars, you will suddenly understand the importance of getting it right. Use the right tool for the right job, or lift, as the case may be. Beware of “Cheap and Easy”.

    All the best,
    Roger LaPointe
    “Today is a good day to lift.”

  • Stone Sphere Lifting

    Atlas Stone Lift Sequence PHoto 1 EVENT: A Gathering of Stone Lifters
    163 Pound Granite Sphere Sequence 1 - Roger LaPointe

    Stone lifting is such an ancient sport that the ancient Egyptians made record it. I have a small course on stone sphere lifting from India that was printed in the early 1950s, but that is apparently a reprint from a much earlier physical culture article, date unknown. There is clearly much older recorded stone ball lifting from the Basques, Greeks, Celts and Chinese. Basically, this is not new stuff, but it is also enduring.

    Of course, real stone will stay around for thousands of years. More than that, it is a form of sport that ties us to the past. You can go to Scotland and lift manhood stones that have been lifted by generations of athletes. Even when you don't lift a known lifting stone, there is still that primitive tie to the past. It is a basic movement that is appealing on its own merit, both for fitness purposes and because it is simply enjoyable. Talk to anyone who has played with real stones and you will see it in their eyes.

    EVENT: A Gathering of Stone Lifters 163 Pound Granite Sphere Sequence 2 - Roger LaPointe EVENT: A Gathering of Stone Lifters
    163 Pound Granite Sphere Sequence 2 - Roger LaPointe

     

    Stone Sphere Lifting Technique

    There are really two different ways to lift a stone ball and the methodology you use will be highly dependent on your goal and the type of lifting in your background.  My formal lifting training is as an Olympic lifter, which fits with the fast, explosive style of the Basques.

     

    Many people have tried to pin the Basque Weightlifters in to lifting categories, stones are merely another type of weight in their culture, but that is a real disservice.  Instead, one needs to think of the object and the objective.  For stone balls, they typically lift only one, but they do it for repetitions in a fixed time period, for example: 1, 2, or 3 minutes.  A 100 Kg granite ball would be typical.

    EVENT: A Gathering of Stone Lifters 163 Pound Granite Sphere Sequence 3 - Roger LaPointe EVENT: A Gathering of Stone Lifters
    163 Pound Granite Sphere Sequence 3 - Roger LaPointe

    Their style, for this type of contest would be like an Olympic weightlifter doing power cleans with a barbell, for repetitions.  It's all about speed with a relatively easy weight.

     

    The second style of stone sphere lifting is more slow strength than speed oriented.  Think of the Olympic weightlifter who cleans a barbell and sits in the bottom, readjusts then easily stands up with it for the jerk.  You can almost think of the clean as a two part movement.  With a stone ball, most guys would re-adjust the arms while the stone is sitting in the lap.  Sometimes, you will hear a stone lifter say that a guy lapped the ball, but couldn't stand up with it.  In the Basque style, there is no "lapping" the ball.  It goes straight to the shoulder.

    http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/poster-a-gathering-of-stone-lifters.html

    Stones are not made for pushing records. Even

    EVENT: A Gathering of Stone Lifters 163 Pound Granite Sphere Sequence 4 - Roger LaPointe EVENT: A Gathering of Stone Lifters
    163 Pound Granite Sphere Sequence 4 - Roger LaPointe

    stones that have been cut and shaped by man are simple basic shapes. As much as I like Olympic lifting, barbells are made to be efficiently lifted for the purpose of pushing record attempts. There are no needle bearings for a granite ball. It is simply a spherically cut piece of granite. The Greek stone mason who first carved a granite ball and picked it up is doing the same thing that we did last weekend at Atomic Athletic's “A Gathering of Stone Lifters”.

    The Poster for “A Gathering of Stone Lifters” is available with FREE Shipping right now. Get your copy here: http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/poster-a-gathering-of-stone-lifters.html

    All the best,Roger LaPointe
    “Today is a good day to lift.”

    PS. When you go to the BLOG make sure to check out the upper left column and check out the new VIDEO BLOG section.

  • Alternate Iron Boot Configurations

    Iron Boots Connected by a Long Dumbbell Bar Iron Boots with Heavy Duty Straps connected with a Long Dumbbell Bar, Allen Collars, Heavy Duty Standard Collars and 50 Pounds of weight added.

    Here are some examples of some alternate configurations for the Iron Boots.

     

    Iron Boots can be connected together for exercises that go heavy, like Reverse Hypers.  The two configurations shown at the right each have distinctly different feels.  I prefer having the weights on the outside when I do leg curls, but only when I have a leg curl bench.

    Iron Boots Connected by Long Dumbbell Bar Connecting the Iron Boots
  • Classic Strongman Yoke Walk Performance

    Folks, there is nothing new under the sun.  Check out this classic strongman feat of strength called, "The Yoke Walk".  If you would like to see a modern Yoke Walk, try this link:

    http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/super-yoke-walk.html

    Classic strongman Yoke Walk demo.
    The competitive strongman event called "The Yoke Walk" is nothing new! Check out this outstanding old photo from Strength & Health magazine.

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