GNC Pro Performance Whey Review — Do Generic Brands Measure Up?

If you live in the United States, you almost certainly know the brand GNC. The supplement store giant has over six thousand stores in America and locations in about fifty other countries.

There’s a good chance you already buy your supplements at GNC. If you’re like me, you might think twice about buying the generic whey protein that’s made by the supplement store.

I decided to put my assumptions to the test. Could GNC Pro Performance Whey actually be a great protein powder?

GNC Pro Performance Nutrition Info

One scoop delivers 140 calories: 24 grams of protein, 6 grams of fiber (1 gram of fiber and 2 grams of sugar) and 2 grams of fat (1 gram of saturated fat).

It’s relatively low in sodium with 3 percent of the recommended daily intake, but a little high in cholesterol with 20 percent of the RDI.

GNC Pro Performance Ingredients

The first ingredient is whey concentrate, which is cheaper and has more fat and carbs than whey isolate. This is probably why one serving has twice as many carbs compared to competitors like Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard and MusclePharm Combat Whey, which have whey isolate as the first ingredient.

GNC Pro Performance Whey Protein Ingredients

So first on the ingredients label is whey concentrate, then whey isolate, then cocoa powder, natural flavors, cellulose gum (a thickener and stabilizer), soy lecithin (to improve mixability), xanthan gum, the artificial sweetener acesulfame potassium, sodium chloride (that’s just salt), and sucralose, also called Splenda®.

GNC Pro Performance Benefits and Effectiveness

There are no real shocks in this ingredients list, though it is a little unusual to have more acesulfame potassium (or Ace-K) than sucralose. It’s typically the last ingredient on a label and it’s one of the more controversial sweeteners you’ll find in a protein powder due to some (debatable) links between Ace-K and impaired insulin response.

It’s probably fine for you, but if you’re wary of it, most of its competitors contain it in lower doses.

Otherwise, it’s worth noting that GNC and Optimum Nutrition and Isopure all get their whey from Glanbia, one of the largest-scale producers of American style cheeses — whey can be a byproduct of cheesemaking, and Glanbia uses it to make protein supplements. So the quality of the whey itself should be on par with those more popular brands.

GNC Pro Performance Whey Protein Taste
GNC Pro Performance Whey Protein Taste

That said, there are a few things you might take issue with: GNC’s whey has the aforementioned artificial sweeteners, it contains soy (which some athletes worry can affect their hormones), and it has twice as many carbs as its “sister brands” Optimum Nutrition and Isopure.

On top of that, it doesn’t contain any digestive enzymes. Optimum Nutrition and most protein powders that contain whey concentrate include digestive enzymes like lactase and aminogen in their ingredients in order to reduce digestive issues among people with lactose sensitivities. (Whey isolates often don’t contain enzymes because they’re usually lactose-free.) If you have trouble with lactose, this might not be for you.

GNC Pro Performance Price

You can pick up a 1.96-pound tub of 25 servings for $20. That’s 80 cents per serving or 3.33 cents per gram of protein.

That’s very, very cheap. When looking at 2- or 3-pound tubs, it’s cheaper than MuscleTech’s Premium Gold (3.4 cents per gram of protein), MusclePharm’s Combat Whey (3.84 cents per gram), Isopure Low Carb (3.86 cents per gram) and Optimum Nutrition (4.31 cents per gram).

For a protein powder that contains whey isolate (which increases the price), it’s one of the cheapest on the market.

GNC Pro Performance Whey Protein Price

Mixability

It dissolves quickly and easily, but it dissolved better in water than in milk. With milk, I found it was just a little grainy in parts.

GNC Pro Performance Taste

What’s unusual about this product is that it has no artificial flavors but it does have artificial sweeteners. The flavor, in the end, is very mild and reminds me of naturally sweetened protein powders like Xwerks and Muscle Feast: tasty with milk, bland with water.

The Takeaway

This is a fine product that tastes great, mixes well, and is very, very cheap. It has the same issues a lot of cheaper protein powders in that it contains soy and artificial sweeteners, which you may want to avoid.

When compared to other cheap protein powders, the main difference is that it contains more whey concentrate than whey isolate, which increases the calories, carbs, and fat by a small amount. But if you can find room for them in your macros, it’s a pretty decent supplement.

The post GNC Pro Performance Whey Review — Do Generic Brands Measure Up? appeared first on BarBend.

What Are Supersets: Benefits and How to Use Them

Supersets have been around in the lifting world for what seems like forever. I would argue that one of the biggest modern day proponents of this style training is Arnold Schwarzenegger (his superset arm days are still widely popular).

Factor in influential strength coaches like Charles Poliquin and YouTube personalities like Dom Mazzetti using this style training, and you have a recipe for a popular training method. Supersets have multiple benefits for an athlete, but there’s one issue that typically comes with them. The issue is that some athletes – I don’t want to use the word incorrectly here – use them inefficiently.

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Supersets are an awesome tool for a lifter to keep in their arsenal, but they need a basic understanding of how to use them before doing so. Below we’ll discuss what supersets are, how they may benefit your gains (with science), and three types of supersets.

What Is a Superset Workout?

The easiest way to define a superset is: Two exercises combined into one full set, with none to little programmed rest in-between.

A superset can take multiple forms and can be left open for the imagination when it comes to combining different movements. Some forms of training actually get their roots from the superset background, such as complex and PAP training. This is where the broad term of superset can get a little misleading. Factor in multiple aspects like rest times, intensity levels, exercise selection, and it’s no wonder supersets can become somewhat confusing to newer lifters.

Science and Supersets

Science has suggested supersets to be useful for multiple reasons. While that’s not always the case, and some research has shown conflicting evidence, but there is promise and usefulness to this style training.

First, supersets may provide a metabolic benefit. Ten recreationally active men had their energy expenditure (aka energy used, or calories burned) compared when following a superset and traditional styled resistance workout. Each subject performed similar workouts with 70% of their 1-RMs on movements, but the difference was the exercise order (supersets and single sets).

Researchers found that the superset group had a higher total energy expenditure compared to the traditional group. Additionally, post-exercise oxygen consumption and blood lactate levels were higher post-workout in the superset group, which suggests these subjects to have a longer elevated energy expenditure (will burn calories longer).

A post shared by Andre Crews (@andrecrews) on Jun 7, 2017 at 2:11am PDT

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Another benefit to supersetting could be a slight benefit in power output. In 2005, researchers compared 24 college leveled rugby players in two settings. One group performed a traditional bench press throw with no training intervention, while the other group performed a set, then did a set of bench pulls to hit antagonistic muscles.

They found that the superset group performing the agonist – antagonist training had a slight increase in acute power. The superset group’s power increased roughly 4.7% after their sets compared to the control group. These methods are similar to contrast training, but focused on using a relatable muscle pairing to seek power benefits (push/pull).

When it comes to hypertrophy and strength, superset research is still lacking. A review from 2010 on agonist – antagonist training suggested the need for more EMG and hypertrophy based research. There’s been evidence suggesting benefit of supersets to metabolic and power advantages, but very little on muscular hypertrophy, so take that knowledge with a grain of salt.

A post shared by Steve Cook (@stevecook) on Apr 29, 2017 at 7:12pm PDT

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Yet, a lot of coaches and athletes utilize this training method to facilitate muscle growth, and with an acute increase in power, then hypertrophy could possibly come as a byproduct of a superset.

Programming Considerations for Supersets

If you’re programming supersets into your workouts, then you should consider a few training variables. These include how you construct your superset and the order in which you do so.

  • Goals: A few examples of how supersets can influence goals include: if you’re trying to save time in a workout, increase muscular endurance, influence neural capacity/drive, and increase energy expenditure.
  • Exercise Order: Compound, or multi-joint movements, should always come first. You don’t want to be physically/mentally fatigued for a lift that will offer the greatest benefit by doing it second in a set.
  • Intensity: Pay attention to how intense you’re performing each movement. You’ll have to tweak and cater this to your level of fitness. A good way to scale your intensity is by letting the reps dictate the weight, basically, let the weight you can do for five reps dictate your set. If you’re frequently missing reps in the superset, then it’s counter intuitive.

A post shared by Charity Witt (@charity_witt) on May 31, 2017 at 5:29pm PDT

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Three Common Themes of Supersets

1. Agonist – Antagonist Sets

Possibly the most common form of supersetting is agonist antagonist style training. This is the combination of two exercises that utilize different muscle groups to avoid easily fatiguing. For example, you’ll pair a push with a pull to give your anterior/posterior muscles a rest as you finish the second exercise.

This style of training is great a few reasons. First, it cuts your workout time down. Busy individuals often reach for supersets with this style of muscle grouping to hit a certain level of training stimulus without wasting the time with one exercise at a time. Second, it’s good for maintaining a natural exercise balance while improving your muscular tenacity. If you’re doing this style training, then chances are you’ll be hitting opposing muscle groups evenly, which is useful for creating a balanced body.

2. Same/Similar Muscle Group Sets (Complex Training)

This style of training requires a little strategy and can be technically considered complex training. For these styled supersets you’re performing exercises after each other that stimulate similar muscles. For example, performing a bench press, then a light tricep pushdown. If we’re talking complex/PAP training, then you’ll perform something like a squat followed by an explosive movement.

A post shared by Jake Boly (@jake_boly) on Jan 4, 2017 at 6:13pm PST

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There are also benefits that come with this style of training. For starters, if you’re using any form of complex/PAP exercise selections, then you’ll be providing the body with a stimulus a single set may not provide (ex: heavy squat to box jump may improve neural capacity). You’ll also be improving on your muscle’s endurance and hypertrophy. Similar muscle group supersets are going to tax muscles much faster, which could further stimulate muscle fiber growth.

3. Upper – Lower Sets

The final superset style pairs upper and lower body movements. These supersets are often best for those training full body, or improving their functional fitness. They can be beneficial for cutting your workout time down, improving muscle endurance in a variety of areas, and used for sports specific training. An example of this training would be doing something like a walking dumbbell lunge to a pull-up.

Superset Benefits

We mentioned multiple benefits of supersets in the categories above, but to clearly point out their suggested benefits we made a list below.

  • Time Saver: If you’re crunched for time, supersets can help keep your workouts short with the same stimulus.
  • Acute Power Increase: This stems from complex/PAP style training, which are subcategories of the broader term superset.
  • Metabolic Benefit: Moving more in less time (with less rest) will often equate to increased energy expenditure (by higher heart rate, increase in workout intensity, etc).
  • Increased Hypertrophy: A lot of coaches/athletes utilize supersets to provide an additional stimulus for for muscle growth that single sets may not do.

Wrapping Up

Supersets can be a useful tool to save you time during your workouts, and there are multiple ways to perform them. If you’d like a visual on the topic, then check out the PictureFit video below that covers somewhat similar information.

Research on the topic is a little sparse, but there have been some suggestions made about this style of training’s on the athlete’s behalf. Whether it works for hypertrophy and absolute strength will be dependent on how an athlete uses this training style.

Feature image screenshot from BroScienceLife YouTube channel. 

The post What Are Supersets: Benefits and How to Use Them appeared first on BarBend.

Clean and Jerk vs Clean and Press: Differences, Benefits, and Technique

Across many sports, the clean and jerk/press movement can be seen done with dumbbells, kettlebells, logs, and various other objects. For the sake of this movement we will refer to both movements in a general sense, not specifically the Olympic weightlifting clean style. 

Below are quick video demonstrations of some common clean and jerk/press variations. Note, the key distinction between the clean and jerk vs the clean and press is the method of getting the load from the shoulders to the overhead locked out position. In the jerk (split, squat, power jerk variations) the lifter is able to re-bend their knees, ankles, and hips to assume a lower fixation point under the barbell to finish the lift, whereas in the clean and press the lifter bends those joints once, forcefully extends them, and must finish the lift with locked knees and ankles.

The Clean and Jerk

Below are some common variations of the clean and jerk movement. Note, the lifter is able to rebend their knees, ankles, and hips after the initial drive phases in the jerk, resulting in a lower barbell fixation height and less demand upon upper body pressing strength to finish the movement.

In the above video 3-Time USA Weightlifting Coach, Jim Schmitz, discusses the finer points of the clean and jerk. In the below video, we have another variation of the clean and jerk, the kettlebell clean and jerk.

A post shared by Juan Pellot (@urstrength) on Jun 12, 2017 at 10:52am PDT

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In this video a competitive Kettlebell Sport athlete performs kettlebell clean and jerks (Girevoy sport style).

The Clean and Press

Below are some common variations of the clean and press movement. Note, the lifters in these videos do not rebend their knees, ankles, and hips after the initial drive phase in the press, resulting in a higher barbell fixation height at the finish, increasing the demand upon upper body strength.

In the above video Matt Chan demonstrates dumbbell pressing variations (strict or push press). The key is that the lifter does not rebend at the knees or hips to receive the load at a lower point. This movement can be done with other objects as well, such as barbells, log bars, kettlebells, etc.

A post shared by Mike Dewar (@mikejdewar) on Aug 9, 2015 at 7:24pm PDT

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In the above video I perform a standard clean and press (push press) with a fat bar. 

What’s the Difference, and Why is it SO Important?

Below are five reasons why coaches and athletes need to understand the differences between the clean and jerk vs the clean and press. While similar, the result of performing a jerk or press could mean the difference between a missed lift (press out in Olympic weightlifting), or a simply a harder/easier way to move an object from Point A to Point B.

1. Olympic Weightlifting Standards

According to Olympic weightlifting standards, the athlete/lifter must receive the barbell in the overhead position with fully extended arms. Any pressing out of the arms (elbow extension) to finish the lift following the explosive movement (the dip and drive) phases of the barbell results in a “no lift” from the judges. The implications of such pressing out movement could result in a zero score for the lift and poor performance in a sanctioned Olympic weightlifting meet. Note, some fitness competitions allow pressing out of heavier loads in the clean and jerk, often due to poor jerk mechanics (as the lifter IS trying to jerk the barbell). While pressing out counts in those types of competitions, the risks of pressing out a weight in which you normally cannot (which is why you choose to jerk it) could result in serious injury to the elbows and shoulder. Coaches must recognize this bad habit of pressing out in the jerk and address any mobility or technical issues.

A post shared by BarBend (@barbend) on Jun 19, 2017 at 11:46am PDT

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2. General Strength and Muscle Hypertrophy Training

The clean and press is a movement that requires a lifter to exhibit pressing strength to finish a lift overhead. Unlike the clean and jerk, the lifter can finish the load overhead by pressing it out with the shoulders, triceps, and chest, making the clean and jerk a more strength and hypertrophy based movement than the jerk. The clean and jerk is often seen in strongman competitions or during general movement pieces focused on strength and movement rather than explosive power.

3. Overhead Efficiency

Efficient movement conserves energy, muscular strength and power, and minimizes fatigue so that athletes can do more work in a given time frame (work capacity). This is important for competitive strongman athletes, CrossFitters, and general fitness as sport demands and goals may be influenced by the amount of repetitions and/or time needed to completion per a prescribed repetition range. The clean and jerk (split, power, or squat jerk) is a very efficient way to get a load from the shoulders to the overhead position because it allows the lifter to use the legs to drive their weight vertical rather than relying solely on the shoulders and arms. The ability to also drop under the load at a lower depth means the lifter does not need to drive the barbell as high in the air, often leading to more loading on the barbell as well.

A post shared by Mike Dewar (@mikejdewar) on Jan 2, 2017 at 6:01pm PST

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4. Technical Demands

The technical demands of the clean and jerk are greater than the clean and press due to the lifter needing to rebend at the knees and hips to absorb the load overhead after driving it vertical. The timing, mobility, and awareness needed for such movement must be trained extensively, as strength is just as important as skill in the jerk.

A post shared by Mike Dewar (@mikejdewar) on Jun 14, 2017 at 10:56am PDT

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5. Loading Amounts

Assuming a lifter is well trained in the jerk and the press, he/she will almost certainly be able to perform the clean and jerk with significantly more weight than the clean and press for a few reasons. (1) The lifter is able to use the legs to drive the barbell off the body, then rebend their knees, hips, and ankles to absorb the load overhead with the lower and upper body muscles. (2) Due to the lifter rebending their lower body joints, the load itself does not need to travel as high vertically to properly be stabilized in the locked out overhead position, as the fixation point is often many inches lower in the clean and jerk than the clean and press. (3) Lastly, due to the lifter being able to use the legs and receiving the load overhead in a lower fixated position, he/she often produces force at higher velocities than in the pressing movement, which generates greater amounts of power production to move the barbell move explosively and ballistically than in the clean and press, making it a very powerful and effective way to move heavy loads overhead.

Want More?

Check out some of these previous articles about the clean and jerk and some top athletes performing them with some serious weight!

Featured Image: @mikejdewar on Instagram

The post Clean and Jerk vs Clean and Press: Differences, Benefits, and Technique appeared first on BarBend.

Is Eddie Hall Playing a Role In the New Transformers Movie?

Eddie Hall may be playing a minor role in the new Transformers movie: The Last Knight. There still hasn’t been confirmation of an acting role on Eddie Hall’s end, but an Instagram post shared by Trent Sevens suggests he’s in it.

The post shared 20 hours ago says, “Check out #transformers when it hits cinemas soon and you can see me, @wolfgangwrestler and @eddie_hall_strong have mad medieval battles probably. #britishstrongstyle #wwe #transformers.”

A post shared by Trent Seven (@trentseven7) on Jun 20, 2017 at 11:12am PDT

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We wish we could state matter-of-factly on the matter, but without Hall’s confirmation, or seeing the film (yet), we can’t state for sure.

[Did you know Eddie Hall has hinted that he might try out weightlifting one day? Read more here.]

But there are a few clues that might further us to believe that Eddie Hall is in fact in the movie without previously seeing it.

Our Rationale and Clues

1. Wolfgang Young and Trent Sevens are both listed on the IMDb cast list with their respective roles, so they’re in the movie. If these two United Kingdom based personalities are in the movie, then the above photo was more than likely taken on set, and Hall is dressed the part (from what it appears).

2. A lot of the filming was done in the United Kingdom. In this Transformers movie, there are multiple medieval scenes that were filmed in Alnwick, a large market town in Northumberland, England. Hall’s hometown Stoke-on-Trent is a four hour drive from filming locations in Alnwick.

3. Strength Asylum also shared the same photo Trent Seven’s photo did. This is the gym Hall trains and films most of training footage at, so they probably wouldn’t post it if it weren’t true, but that’s just a guess.

From the above information, it doesn’t seem unrealistic that Hall appears in the film at some point.

Additionally, Hall has been posting more about his weight loss and venturing into new career/sport opportunities. Could we be seeing him on the big screen one day? Other strength athletes have made that transition (Arnold, Lou, etc).

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For the time being, we’re going to continue looking for an official confirmation. But we’re sure more information will come to light as more athletes confirm or deny that they see Hall in the new movie – keep your eyes on the medieval scenes for a possible Hall spotting.

If you saw the movie, did you see Hall?

Feature image from @trentsevens7 Instagram page. 

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Dumbbell Bench Press – Muscles Worked, Benefits, and Technique

The dumbbell bench press is a movement that falls within the horizontal pressing domain, which also includes: barbell bench press, push ups, and angular variations (decline, incline, etc). In an earlier article I went throughout the differences between the dumbbell and barbell bench presses, which you can see here.

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Let’s dive into the unique benefits of the dumbbell bench press, how you should do them for best results, and what specifics you need to know to promote the most muscle, strength, and injury resilience while doing them!

5 Benefits of the Dumbbell Bench Press You CANNOT Deny!

Below are five huge reasons why powerlifting, strongman, Olympic weightlifting, and yes, CrossFit athletes should be doing the dumbbell bench press. While the bench press is often seen as a “bro-sesh” kind of movement, it can truly develop the upper body strength and muscle mass needed for:

  • Heavier pressing movements (including overhead lifts),
  • Higher rep based training under fatigue (often seen in CrossFit and other functional fitness sports), and is an
  • Effective means to increase sport specific goals (such as powerlifting totals, increases in lean body mass, etc).

1. Increased Muscle Hypertrophy and Strength

Bench pressing in general can create some serious strength and hypertrophy gains. No matter the sport, nearly every lifter could benefit from increases strength and muscle mass. The bench press, as well as the overhead movements are critical for upper body pushing strength development. By only training overhead pressing movements, you negate a vital movement patterning of the human body, not striking balance with increase pulling and other movement volume. Additionally, many lifters enjoy bench pressing, therefore by allowing a lifter to bench press can increase motivation to train which can lead to long term commitment to increases in upper body strength, front rack positioning, and overall muscle mass.

2. Joint Angle Customization (Injury and Training Stimulus)

Unlike the barbell bench press (and other fixed pressing movements), the dumbbell allows a lifter to rotate their arms, position their shoulders, and change the movement patterning slightly to better suit their joint integrity needs. Some lifters may get shoulder/elbow/wrist pain from pressing with a barbell (while others don’t). Rather than for a lifter to either (a) lift very light so that there is not pain (3) train with regular loading and risk further injury and/or discomfort in pressing movements. Dumbbells can be used to attain all of the above goals, while still allowing for serious loafing on muscles, connective tissues, and joints.

3. Increased Unilateral Strength and Development

In an earlier article I discussed in depth the importance of unilateral training, for all segments of the body. By performing dumbbell bench presses, you can reap all normal benefits of bench pressing AND al the unique benefits of unilateral training.

A post shared by Mark rose (@markthenrose) on Jan 24, 2017 at 4:13pm PST

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4. Increasing Range of Motion for Joint Health and Power

Unlike the barbell bench press, the dumbbell bench press allows for increased lengthening of the muscle fibers and even joint capsule while pressing. For some lifters, failure to increase personal records or getting stuck in the bench press could suggest poor end range control and/or lack of overall development of muscle fibers. By increasing the range of motion and the ability to promote force throughout, you also increase your shoulders and chest muscles injury resilience, which is often lacking in competitive sports (especially during explosive or high volume movements). Additionally, by increasing the amount of force that you can produce at end ranges of movement you can increase maximal strength and power at off the chest in the bench press, often a sticking point for many.

A post shared by bobby clark (@lilbob275) on May 6, 2017 at 2:11pm PDT

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5. Development of Stabilization Muscles

Due to the dumbbells being independent of one another  (unlike the barbell bench press), the body must work to properly stabilize the load unilaterally, meaning that any compensation patterns covered by a lifter being able to shift greater load and control to a stronger/healthier arm is minimized. The payoff is that the lifter can then strengthen and challenge joint stabilization and train dormant muscle groups to increase control and firing rates, which can then be applied into competitive bench pressing or other fitness exercises.

Muscles Worked

The bench press is an extremely effective movement for increasing upper body strength and muscle mass for aesthetics purposes, competitive advantages, or simply to promote overall muscle growth and development. Below are the key exercises stressed during the dumbbell bench press. It is important to note that many variations can exist (incline pressing, single arm, pauses, etc) that will alter which muscle group below is specifically targeted, but nonetheless here are the muscles worked:

  • Pectoralis Major (Chest)
  • Clavicular Pectoralis Muscles (Chest)
  • Shoulders
  • Triceps
  • Scapulae and Back (Stabilization)

How to Do the Dumbbell Bench Press

Below is a quick video demonstration on how to perform the dumbbell bench press. The queues and set up are generally similar to the bench press, with the slightly distinction that the palms are facing one another rather than towards the feet, is in the barbell bench press. This will allow for greater chest and arm isolation while decreasing strain on the shoulders.

Note, that in this video Mark Bell reps out a set of 35 presses with technique and power. For beginners and lifters looking for hypertrophy and strength specificity, manipulating rep ranges and tempos can also be varied. For more, watch the video below regarding chest hypertrophy training specifics.

How to Program for Strength and Muscle Mass

Generally speaking, the chest muscles tend to grow bigger (hypertrophy) and stronger under moderate to heavy loading, with good amounts of volume (sets and reps). In the video below, Dr. Mike Israetel discusses the science behind muscle hypertrophy training for the chest specifically, in great detail.

Overall, performing this movement for 4-6 sets of 5-8 repetitions with near maximal loading may be best for overall strength and muscular development (surely, there is some play based on overall training volume of the chest throughout the week). I highly recommend you watch the video below if you are at all interested in growing more muscle mass and strength abilities transferable to your sport or training.

Want More Chest Workouts and Muscle Hypertrophy Reads?

Check out the articles and workouts below to elevate your muscle and brain gains!

Featured Image: @markthenrose on Instagram

The post Dumbbell Bench Press – Muscles Worked, Benefits, and Technique appeared first on BarBend.

Muscle Snatch – Exercise Guide and Benefits

In this guide we will discuss the muscle snatch, a versatile snatch variation that can be performed by Olympic weightlifters and functional fitness athletes of all levels. It can be effective at increasing pulling strength, upper body involvement, and barbell trajectory/balance in the pull, allowing one to increase performance and technical mastery in the snatch.

The Benefits of the Muscle Snatch

The muscle snatch is a snatch variation that is often used by coaches to prime the snatching movement, increase pulling strength, and enhance snatch mechanics and fluidity throughout the pull and turnover. Below are some benefits of the muscle snatch.

1. Movement Primer for Heavier Snatches

The muscle snatch can prepare all the muscles in the upper back and shoulders for heavier snatch sessions. By performing muscle snatches with lighter relative loads during the warm-up, you can increase the upper and lower back engagement, triceps, shoulders, chest, and more; all of which need to be maximally recruited during heavier lifts.

2. Increased Pulling Strength and Turnover During Finish of Second and Third Pulls in Snatch

The muscle snatch can be used to help lifters gain strength in the second and third pulling phases of the snatch, with an additional great emphasis on upper body strength to finish the lift as it approaches the turnover phase. Many lifters may lack the upper body strength and/or timing needed to fulling stand up and pull the weight as high as one can before transitioning under. By doing so, lifters will gain elevation of the barbell at the end of the pulling phases, ensuring more time and/or less depth needed to get under the barbell to receive it overhead.

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3. Teach Barbell Trajectory and Connectivity Throughout the Snatch Pull

By not allowing any re-flexing of the knees or hips under the barbell, or allowing a lifter to jump forward or backwards to save a weight overhead, the muscle snatch teaches proper balance and pulling patterning necessary for the snatch. Additionally, many lifters fail to stay connected to the barbell in the finishing phases of the pull, some even banging the barbell out horizontally instead of pulling the bar vertically as close to body at the top of the pull. By including the muscle snatch, lifters can develop the strength and understanding of the path the barbell must go in the snatch.

4. Snatch Variation for Lifters with Injuries or Limitations

A few months ago I sprained a ligament in my wrist, and the muscle snatch (as well as close grip snatches) was my primary snatch movement for nearly 8 weeks. By minimizing the loading, ballistic movement, and explosive turnovers usually done in the full snatch lift I was able to remain relatively coordinated and engaged with my training while I was recovering by including muscle snatches in my program. Some lifters may have knee and hip soreness/issues, yet still want to remain involved with the snatch movement (as a few days without technical work can have a negative impact on technique). By including muscle snatches into sessions  they can continue to train without jumping explosively or risking injury.

5. Increased Technical Training of Snatch Lift on Lighter Training Days

Similar to the power snatch and other light movements, the muscle snatch can be a great way to train the general movement patterning needed to snatch (the pulling phase, not the absorption of load overhead in the squat position phase) during times of tapering, recovery weeks, and/or warm-ups. By using muscle snatches, coaches and athletes can still train pulling strength, aggression, and technical mastery of certain phases of the lift (set up, first pull, second pull, some of the turnover/third pull) while allowing for some recovery and neural adaptation to occur in times an athlete may need decreased intensities and volumes.

A post shared by Mike Dewar (@mikejdewar) on May 8, 2017 at 12:10pm PDT

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How to Muscle Snatch (Two Styles)

There are two main muscle snatch techniques often performed, both of which serve unique purposes. In an earlier article, Yasha Kahn discussed the difference between light muscle snatches and heavy muscle snatches (also know as Soviet muscle snatches). I personally liked his breakdown, as I often performed them both styles for variance and for different reasons.

1. The Muscle Snatch (Elbows DO NOT Drop)

In the below video, Greg Everett does a great job explaining the technique that is used in one variation of the muscle snatch, regardless of load. The main difference between this style and the below muscle snatch variation is (1) the elbows DO NOT drop lower than their highest point in the turnover to ensure maximal pulling with minimal pressing out, (2) lifter can allow hip contact with the hips, and (3) the lifter can use full hook grip.

2. The “Soviet” Muscle Snatch (Elbows DO Drop)

In the below video the “Soviet” muscle snatch is shown (called that by Yasha Kahn in this article). The primary distinctions between this muscle snatch variation and the one above is (1) the lifter is able to drop the elbows some to press out the weight at heavier loads, which is NOT acceptable in first muscle snatch variation, (2) the lifter does NOT make hip contact to ensure maximal vertical pulling, and (3) the lifter does NOT use a hook grip, to maximize grip strength and body positioning over the barbell in the pull.

Both movements can be used often in the same session, however I personally use them both. As I warm up, I will use a hybrid, in which I will not use a hook grip, will not allow hip contact, but will also NOT ALLOW my elbows to drop. As loads progress, I often will then let my elbows drop to also train some snatch pressing and lockout strength in the heavier sets.

How to Program the Muscle Snatch

The muscle snatch is a great movement that can be programmed into every training session, deload weeks, or lighter training days. For all athletes, I recommend performing the muscle snatch (a few sets and reps) at lighter loads during warm-up sets to get the upper body ready for heavier loads. Additionally, the muscle snatch can be used to add upper body strength and pulling/lockout abilities during the turnover phases for many lifters who are in a deload, lighter training sessions, and even recovering from various injuries in the hip, knee, etc (one’s that may be negatively impacted by returning to ballistic full lifts).

Below are some programming guidelines one can follow when integrating muscle snatches into a training program.

  • Speed and Technical Development: 1-3 repetitions of intensities between 40-60% RM (of full snatch)
  • Pulling/Turnover Strength and Lighter to Moderate Training Days: 1-3 repetitions of intensities between 40-60% RM (of full snatch)
  • Can also be done before all snatch sessions to warm-up the upper body for finishing pulls. I personally do muscle snatches in warm-up sets every day, with 40-50% loads, combined with some snatch balances, Sots presses, overhead squats, power snatches, or the full snatch.

Tips to Snatch More Weight!

The muscle snatch is a helpful snatch priming movement and/or variation to increase the specific needs (discussed above) of a lifter who may lack the aggression, strength, and technique needed to snatch more weight. In addition to the muscle snatch, the following articles and exercises can be VERY helpful at improving technique, strength, and snatching performance!

Featured Image: @mikejdewar on Instagram

The post Muscle Snatch – Exercise Guide and Benefits appeared first on BarBend.

Mart Seim Squats 210kg for 20 Reps, Plus Other High Rep Lifts

If you’re ready to feel winded with an indirect quad pump, then check out the video below of Estonian 105kg+ weightlifter Mart Seim squatting 210kg for an easy 20-reps. Besides hitting 462 lbs for the easy 20-reps, what’s possibly the most impressive part is that Seim doesn’t even look winded after the 20th rep.

On top of that, his tempo never slowed and he hit ample depth with every rep.

A post shared by Mart Seim (@martseim) on Jun 19, 2017 at 5:59am PDT

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If you’re already a Seim fan, then more than likely not surprised at this lightweight 20-rep video. After all, Seim maximally squats 400kg (880 lbs) and makes it look easy without a belt too.

To put the 210kg in perspective, if we say 400kg is his absolute max, then 210kg is only 52% of Seim’s 1-RM weight, which is absolutely insane thinking about. Check out the video below of Seim’s 400kg beltless back squat from February 2016.

A post shared by Mart Seim (@martseim) on Feb 3, 2016 at 12:03pm PST

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But Seim’s cardio squat isn’t the only high rep lift he’s recently shared on his social media. He’s also posted upper body cardio lifts, check out his casual 70kg strict press for 33 reps below.

A post shared by Mart Seim (@martseim) on Jun 13, 2017 at 6:13am PDT

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Seim’s recent high rep lifts remind us of other cardio videos we’ve written on in the last few months. Let’s not forget the time that Davon Mahon’s squatted 180kg for 42-reps back in December.

20-reps is impressive, but 42-reps seems to be on another level. That’s more reps than most people perform in a single workout with all of their working sets for a movement combined.

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Yet, what’s better than 42-reps? What about Freddi Smulter’s 130kg 48-rep bench press. He performed this back in April, and made the 130kg look like a warm-up.

Granted, Smulter does, and has held IPF equipped bench press world records, so it’s not terribly surprising he can rep 130kg like it’s a bar.

A post shared by Freddi Smulter (@superhurri) on Apr 13, 2017 at 5:34am PDT

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The final video we’re going to include in this high-rep cardio article comes from Juggernaut Strength Coach Chad Wesley Smith.

Smith is known for his epic squat strength, but did you know he’s also repped 227.5kg for 22-reps in one minute?

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Feature image screenshot from @martseim Instagram page. 

The post Mart Seim Squats 210kg for 20 Reps, Plus Other High Rep Lifts appeared first on BarBend.