Trying to administer a three day per week percentage based bench press program around a student-athletes schedule is daunting. During the academic year, for a variety of reasons, the school week may only be four days or less. There is Labor Day, teachers workshops, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving vacation, the winter holidays, spring break, in Northern America winter snow days, all of which may disrupt a lifting schedule. Athletes also have competition, midterms, finals, religious concerns, special school events and there is often late travel during the competitive season that causes limited rest for the participant and all alter the best-laid plans.
A Bench Press Program that always works regardless of schedule:
Day #1 - Bench Press - 3 sets of 5 reps
Warm up any way you choose, but once you have selected your warm up method the method should never vary. When you can accomplish 3 sets of 5 repetitions add 10 pounds the next Day #1 workout, also add 10 pounds to your warm up weights.
Every Day #1 you must total 15 repetitions. If you achieve 5, 3, 2 repetitions in your sets this means you are down 6 reps from your 15 rep total of 3 sets of 5 repetitions. Continue performing additional sets making up the 6 missed reps.
Day #2 - Bench Press 4 Sets, your goal is 40 reps in 4 sets
Warm up any way you choose, but once you have selected your warm up method the method should never vary.
When you begin this program start the first workout with a weight you can do 15 reps with the greatest effort. Your goal is ultimately to get a total of 40 reps in 4 sets with the chosen weight. When you accomplish this add 10 pounds the next training session.
Every Day #2 you must total 40 repetitions. If you achieve 15, 8, 6, 5 repetitions in your 4 sets this means you are down 6 reps from your 40 rep goal total. Continue performing additional sets making up the 6 missed reps. When you can accomplish 40 reps in 4 sets add 10 pounds.
Day #3 - Bench Press 4 Sets with the Day #2 weight
Warm up exactly how you did on Day #2. Do 4 sets of maximum repetitions with the Day #2 weight. When the 4th set is finished regardless of the total number of repetitions accomplished the Day #3 bench press is completed.
This same program can be used in-season with this adjustment:
Day # 1 - 3 sets of 6 reps for a total of 18 reps
Day #2 - Bench Press 4 Sets, with the goal of 40 reps in 4 sets, always making up the reps that were not accomplished in 4 tries.
Day # 3 - You will only bench press 2 days per week and resume the three day per week program when the season is over.
If you have a short week out of season and can only fit in two days of training choose Day #1 and Day #2.
If you can only fit in one day of training, in or out of season, choose Day #2.
A simple program that will always Get you Strong. The only catch is that it does require EFFORT!
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Train eight ways on the Pendulum 5-Way Neck Machine to Get the head and neck Strong
The hotbed of proprioception is the head and neck region of our anatomy, all athletes benefit from training this area. Inattention to the musculature of the head and neck system slights optimal development. The first goal of a strength training program is to protect the student-athlete and contact sports require a comprehensive structured head and neck program.
There are Many Reasons for Head And Neck Training
Saginaw Valley State University Pendulum Neck Machines
1. Protect the athlete
2. Lower the sub-concussive forces that cause short term and long term injury
3. Enhance the ability of moving the head quickly
4. Significantly improve body strength
5. Improve balance and athleticism
6. Attenuate and dissipate energy
7. Increase maximum oxygen uptake
8. Stretch and strengthen the suboccipital muscles that have a direct correlation to the hamstrings
Colgate University Pendulum Neck Machines
9. Increase vertical jump height
10. Increase blood flow to and from the brain
12. Less mistakes during play due to contact and stress
13. Protect and strengthen the shoulders
14. Reduce headaches
15. Having strength measurements for return to play guidelines
16. Ultimately do the right thing by being responsible
Michigan State University Pendulum Neck Machines
Train the Head and Neck and Get Strong
The Pingry School is located in Martinsville, New Jersey. Doug Scott is the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach. The hallmark of any strength and conditioning program is Preventative Sports Medicine and the Pingry School exemplifies this.
Doug Scott discusses the Pingry School neck training program to a group of coaches
Beginning in the 6th grade physical education classes, all students begin neck exercise as part of their normal fitness routines. The purpose is not to neglect the structures that are important in posture, balance, movement, strength, cooling, oxygen uptake and protecting the student athlete by lowering concussive forces. Having total body strength by including a neck protocol prepares young students for their participation in sport.
The following routine over time significantly changes these young students strength and readies them, male and female, for the comprehensive head and neck training program awaitng them in high school.
Laying on their backs the students are instructed to make a goal post with their arms and keep the back of their hands on the floor during each of three different exercises.
1). Neck flexion - bring the chin to chest and hold for each repetition.
2). Neck protrusion - raise the head vertically off the floor in a straight line sticking out the chin .
3). Side of neck - raising the head off the floor and tilting the ear to the shoulder and returning to neutral. Each side is trained.
A great way to Get the young Strong.
Maintaining one's body’s center of mass over its base of support is called balance. We make automatic adjustments to maintain posture and stability in our daily living and work hard to enhance our balance when we are involved in athletics. Balance is coordinated by several physiological systems. The vestibular or auditory system located in the inner ear and the visual system, which sends visual signals from the eyes to the brain about our body's position in relation to its surroundings. The proprioceptive system uses sensory nerves called proprioceptors located in muscles, tendons and joints, along with the central nervous system, which gives you a kinesthetic sense or an awareness of our body in space.
Participating in sport, developing skills, conditioning drills, and strength training augments balance. A strong core stabilizes the spine, pelvis and shoulder girdle and creates a solid base of support to generate powerful movements of the extremities. Besides practice, drills and basic strength training, coaches use stability balls, medicine balls, kettlebells, wobble boards, balance boards, planks, TRX's, as well as yoga, martial arts, Pilates, tai chi, and a wide variety of exercises to improve equilibrium during coordinated movements.
Training the head and neck musculature is extremely important in maintaining and improving balance, often neglected, the area should never be overlooked. Postural instability can be induced by fatiguing cervical muscle spindles, that is, postural changes can be made by exercising neck muscles, which temporarily affects neck function and balance in a standing posture.
Pendulum Rack System and Pendulum 5-Way Neck
Improve the 'balance' in your training regime by never failing to keep and Get your head and neck Strong.
Gabe Harrington has a Masters degree from Michigan State University. He has coached at MSU, the United States Military Academy and most recently was the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Colgate University Patriot League Football Champions. Gabe explains that sometimes it is important to back off from something.
Strengthening the muscles of the head and neck should be a part of any good strength program. Training these muscles for strength and size (and therefore injury prevention) requires lots of hard work and effort. The side effects include general muscular soreness and fatigue. While this is normal and considered part of the process, there is a time and a place for everything.
Assuming your players have trained hard for many months and are now in two-a-day camp, it is time to adjust. As a strength coach, you must take into account the new stresses on the body: wearing a helmet for several hours each day, contact (read collision), film study, and less than optimal sleeping conditions to name a few.
When I was at Colgate University, I had spent several years refining my programming to achieve optimal techniques and loading cycles. In my final year, I had come up with what I felt worked best for my players, given their environment and our coaches practice style. Our camp program looked like this:
- Get in the weight room EVERY DAY that there was only one practice. This helped to account for the two-a-day time slip, where three days feels like three weeks. If your players come to the weight room as part of their daily routine, it helps to achieve a psychological sense of normalcy.
- Being in the weight room with this frequency DOES NOT mean to lift every day. We had a three workout rotation that was based on several factors: observations from the strength staff and athletic training staff from being at practice each day, talking with our coaching staff daily to anticipate the coming schedule as far as contact, etc. And most importantly, talking with our veteran players to see how they were feeling and making adjustments accordingly.
- The three workouts were: two different total body lifts (short and not too intense), and one accessory type workout performed circuit style involving shoulder pre-hab movements with 5-10lbs, bands, bodyweight, foam rolling, and stretching. How these workouts cycled were based on the previously mentioned observation factors and never did we lift on two consecutive days.
HEAD AND NECK SPECIFIC
- Lift #1: flexion and extension 1x10 on the Pendulum 5-way neck machine (at 45-90lbs), 1 arm shrug on the Pendulum 5-way neck machine ( at 70-115lbs)
- Lift #2: dorsi flexion/tilt 1x20 on the Pendulum 5-way neck machine (at 45-55lbs), nods 1x20 on the Pendulum 5-way neck machine (at 90-115lbs), band upright row 2x20
- Accessory workout: flexion, extension, rotation and combination movements with gravity being the only resistance x30 seconds each, blackburns x30 seconds, shrug/lat raise x30 seconds, external rotation x30 seconds
As can be seen, this is very light and designed to keep some volume of work on the musculature while not causing overload. And more than anything, it helped our players stay healthy and feel good.
In contrast, in the summer program prior to camp our HEAD AND NECK training cycle looked like this:
- Monday: Manual 4-way neck 1x12 (maximum effort), Barbell Shrug 3x12 (heavy to light, max effort all sets)
- Tuesday: dorsi flexion/tilts on the Pendulum 5-way neck machine 2x20 (at 45-90lbs), 1-arm shrug 2x15 (at 45lbs), external rotations, and pull-apart variations with mini bands
- Thursday: 4-way neck on the Pendulum 5-way neck machine 1x12 (maximum effort), DB shrug 3x12 (light to heavy, max effort last set)
- Friday: jaw work focusing on the masseter 2x20 with bands, scapular elevation 2x20 (bodyweight), scapular depression 2x20(bodyweight)
This part of our program easily consumed more than one full hour (of the NCAA allowed 8 hours) dedicated solely to the head and neck. The point is this, when you are in camp you don’t ask your players to squat at 85% of their one rep max, so why would you ask them to train their heads and necks that way? However, before you back off from head and neck training, make sure you are backing off from SOMETHING.
Knowing how to properly perform each repetition of an exercise is essential, yet this is only a small part of program design. Laying out a regime for an entire athletic department requires much thought and anaylsis. Doug Scott, Head Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Pingry School, designs his strength training program to enhance performance, but first and foremost to protect the athlete. Below Doug shares his thought process in examining and implementing exercise throughout the Pingry School's athletic department.
Strengthening the muscles of the head, neck and traps should be a priority for everyone involved in competitive athletics. It is the role of the strength coach to develop exercises, as well as systems to make sure every athlete receives the proper amount of training to insure they are prepared for the demands of their sport. At Pingry each sport is given a ranking of a 1, 2, or 3 based on the likelihood of sustaining a head or neck injury. Sports that received a 3 require the athlete to perform neck, head, and trap exercises 3 days a week; while sports that received a 2 or 1 required 2 or 1 day a week training respectively. Below is the breakdown to illustrate.
Cross Country Track
Ice hockey (M,W)
Indoor track (runners)
Baseball / Softball
Training on the Pendulum 5-Way Head and Neck Machine to Get Strong
A very interesting study was completed comparing the effectiveness of suboccipital stretching versus direct stretching techniques in changing the range of motion of the hips. The suboccipitals are four muscles (rectus capitis posterior major and minor, obliquus capitis superior and inferior) they are located directly below the occiput or base of skull in the back of the upper neck and have a high density of proprioceptors. For this reason the neck is regarded as an important proprioceptive organ for postural processes. It has been shown by stretching this muscular group you can actually change the flexibility of the hamstrings.
Stretching the muscles in the back of the head and subsequently increasing the range of motion of the hamstrings is counterintuitive yet occurs. Researchers took this counterintuitve process of range of motion one step furthur, they examined what would happen to the hip flexors when stretching the same sub-occipital muscles that lengthened the hamstrings.
Using a reliable hand-held dynamometer to determine the end point of range of motions of joints, they divided subjects into three groups: cervical stretch, hip stretch and sham/placebo. In the sham/placebo group the researcher did movements that it was full well known elicited no results, the subjects were unaware that nothing would occur. After careful statistical analysis only the suboccipital groups stretching procedure increased hip flexion range of motion significantly.
Based on studies it appears that stretching the back of the neck not only increases the range of motion in the hamstrings, but also increases the range of motion of the hips. Training the head neck and jaw elicits many surprising positve performance results as the athlete Gets Strong.
We unconsciously perceive our movement and spatial orientation from stimuli within the body itself, this is called proprioception. For example when standing and leaning forward we feel an increased pressure in the front part of the soles of the feet. Cues from the ankles indicate the body’s movement and sway relative to standing, as well as information about the quality of the surface whether it is hard, soft, slippery, uneven or other. Sensory receptors respond by sending impulses to the brain to correct posture, thus balance.
The sensory impulses originating in the neck are especially important as proprioceptive cues indicate the direction in which the head is turned and how the corresponding postural balance must be adjusted. Anatomical structures in the cervical spine responsible for position sense interact with the Central Nervous System and affect our ability to plan and execute effective purposeful movements.
Muscle spindles are the sensory receptors found in the belly of muscles that are sensitive to stretch and changes in the muscles length. These receptors are in high densities and have complex arrays in cervical muscles and provide proprioceptive information for the CNS. Muscle spindles play a key role in cervical sensorimotor function and are an improtant part of our abilities in athletics. To have a balanced training program head and neck strengthening must be included. Balance your workouts with head and neck training as you Get Strong.
Pendulum Head and Neck Machine
A few things to chew over
The Pendulum 4 Way Neck
* The maximum bite force of athletes is significantly higher than the bite force of non-athletes.
* Athletes who belong to combative sports such as rugby and judo have higher bite force than most sports in general.
* If you habitually chew on a particular side of your mouth the bite force will be greater than the opposite side.
* There is a significant positive correlation between biting force and grip strength and back strength in athletes.
* There is a strong correlation between biting force and the numbers of chin-ups an athlete can do, the results for the side-step test and even times for the 50 meter dash.
Pendulum 5 Way Neck