Favorite Squat/Bench Press Variants

Discussion in 'Barbell' started by Bro Mo, Nov 5, 2019.

  1. Bro Mo

    Bro Mo Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    Doing some conjugate training for a bit and curious what are other's favorite squat and bench press variants for max efforts?

    I like zerchers a lot but they do hurt my elbows when I go for max efforts. Front squats have never done me wrong though.

    I like floor presses quite a bit because they remove a bit of stretch reflex. Close grip bench has never done me wrong either.
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2019
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  2. Antti

    Antti More than 2500 posts

    With the squat I actually like the low bar wide stance the least of the four I do. Olympic squats feel better and safety bar squats are even better and probably what I do the most. I really like the zercher and I have never had problems with the elbows hurting. Maybe it is different with more weight, maybe it's a form issue.

    Doing some good mornings could also be an alternative for the squats.

    Apart from the close grip I really like the dead bench for bench press alternative. But my experience with bench alternatives is quite limited.
  3. Geoff Chafe

    Geoff Chafe Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    Slingshot Bench or Two Board Bench- work up to a heavy single on Bench, add 10% of daily max, add Slingshot, Bands or Boards for 3-5 x 1-3

    Banded Box Squats- work up to heavy 1-3 x 1-3 with bands and bar weight, rest 10min, remove bands, do bar weight for AAMRAP(Almost As Many Reps As Possible) *for bands I use 150-200lb(at the top) for high 300lb-low 400lb bar weight
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2019
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  4. LukeV

    LukeV More than 300 posts

    I don't squat but if going super heavy the floor press is hard to beat. Floor press is a pure press, no leg drive, plus the limited ROM is kinder on shoulders and elbows, so in my experience it facilitates being able to lift heavy more frequently than other bench press variants
  5. william bad butt

    william bad butt More than 300 posts

    For squat I like the low bar, hip hinge, back squat the best (competition squat). I've come to accept that it does more for me than anything else. It builds everything else up with it (including non squat related lifts). I also use bands and reverse bands. I like pause squats and safety bar squats. For safety bar squats I like to drive the handles down towards my chest, it makes the loft harder! For non-max effort I like goblet squats and believe it or not I do leg curls and leg extensions!

    For bench press, I do competition style bench presses, I use bands and reverse bands. I do a lot of 3 board bench presses as well as floor presses.

    Overall I like things simple and I just squat and bench (my competition variant).


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  6. Gregor Samsa

    Gregor Samsa Double-Digit Post Count

    I generally bench touch and go, so paused reps are my go-to variant.
  7. Philippe Geoffrion

    Philippe Geoffrion More than 500 posts

    I really like the conjugate method. I like to go heavy, and often, thus rotating exercises really is a godsend in this regard as well as increasing motivation due to less burnout. Training becomes fun again, and hitting P.R.s and continuously being allowed to lift heavy is fun...at least for me. I've been using conjugate as well, and I've found I like to alternate weeks of one heavier/partial movement with one movement that covers a longer R.O.M. and less weight the next week. For each individual, what transfers over to their lifts is individual, but I suggest doing "neglected" movements, i.e. using a narrow grip if you bench wider, high bar squat if you use Low bar, etc. Here are some examples of alternating M.E. lifts

    Week 1 Lighter (Raw-bottom end)
    Close Grip Bench, Incline press, Paused (numerous pause counts available), Pauses at Pins, (various heights)

    Week 2 Heavier
    Decline Bench, Board Presses, Floor Press, Reverse Band, Slingshot

    Front Squats, High Bar Squats, Pause w/ Low bar, Narrow/wider stances, Safety Bar Squats w/ Olympic shoes

    Box Squats, Anderson Squats, Zerchers (for me, anyways)

    By alternating weeks, I get the feel of heavier weights and also a bit of a deload and practice the next week via a larger R.O.M. to transfer better to the sticking points more common as a raw lifter, i.e. the bottom 1/2 of the lifts. All these lifts can be modified several times over by combining the method of alternating implements, stance width, pauses, R.O.M., speed of the lift and a few others I may be forgetting. i.e. do Anderson squats with a narrow stance for conventional deadlifter leg drive or using a wide grip on floor press can help you get used to lowering and raising a heavier weight, while using a close grip will make it much more of a longer R.O.M and force the arm extensors to work harder. The options are limitless, almost. Different bars such as football bars or Duffalo bars can also be used for bench to spare shoulders or increase R.O.M while the Safety Bar places the bar higher on the back, forcing the upper back to be driven into it on ascent, which may help a lifter, like myself, who's bum seems to rise before the back out of the hole.

    It really comes down to what you need, at that specific time. I've found that pre-planning M.E. lifts is futile, as once I get to the gym, my warmup will usually tell me what I need to do. If you are new to a lift like the floor press, you'll probably be able to do that lift for several weeks with progression, so some experimentation will be required to make the recipe for you just right and to find what lifts have the most transfer to yours. You may find certain lifts help a bit, and some not at all. For example, I know when my close grip bench and floor press go up, my bench goes up with it without any training. Same with my front squat and box squat for my low bar squat.
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2019
  8. Bro Mo

    Bro Mo Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    I essentially do the same thing.
    I've been doing more banded box squats lately.
  9. Philippe Geoffrion

    Philippe Geoffrion More than 500 posts

    Reverse band or banded from the bottom? Haven't done much band or chain work unfortunately as my gym has little of either but I feel they're both good for supra maximal work.
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  10. Geoff Chafe

    Geoff Chafe Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    @Bro Mo and @Philippe Geoffrion I have been doing similar.

    W1D1- Squat
    W1D2- Press(add bands every other cycle)

    W2D1- Pin Squat(add bands every other cycle)*low pin
    W2D2- Push Press

    W3D1- Box Squat(add bands every other cycle)*change box height every other cycle, low, high
    W3D2- 30deg Incline Press(Slingshot on top sets)

    I have been liking the variety, but pressing is slow to progress because of the relatively low volume. My Squat is going well though.
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  11. kennycro@@aol.com

    kennycro@@aol.com More than 500 posts

    Buy Them

    Band are fairly cheap and easy to carry.

    Just buy them and take them to the gym.

    Supra Maximal Training

    This means a load that is beyond your 1 Repetition Concentric Max which is an Eccentric.

    Thus, when band are attached and used in a Concentric Contraction, they do not fall under Supra Maximal Loading.

    PAP Loading (Post Activation Potentiation)

    When heavy loaded exercise is followed by a moderate to light exercise, greater force is produce in the moderate to lighter exercise, This PAP.

    Band and chain do provide a PAP Training Effect. The loading is higher at the top end and less at the bottom end, eliciting PAP, greater force production.

    Muscle Overload

    In any given exercise, only 30% of the movement overload the muscles in the movement.

    The remaining 70% is underloaded.

    Attaching band and/or chain allows you to overload the muscle through a greater range of the movement in an exercise in an Ascending Strength Curve Exercise; an exercise hard at the bottom and easier at the top.

    Examples: Squats, Deadlifts, Leg Press, Bench Press, etc.

    Maximizing Results

    To ensure optimal training results, some Accommodating Resistance Training (Bands and/or Chains) with Ascending Strength Curve Exercises should be employed in every training cycle.

    Performing an Ascending Strength Curve Exercise without Accommodating Resistance mean around 70% of your training is less productive than it could be.

    Kenny Croxdale
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  12. kennycro@@aol.com

    kennycro@@aol.com More than 500 posts

    Band Every Other Cycle

    This will work to some extent but undermines the use of the bands...

    Accommodating Resistance

    The purpose of Accommodating Resistance is to overload the muscle in a movement throughout the full range of the movement or close to it.

    In all movement, only 30% of the overload (necessary for an increase in strength and/or size) occurs.

    That means the remaining part 70% of the movement, underloaded the muscle.

    Some training effect still occurs with underloading but to less degree than when the muscles are overload in a movement.

    Another Approach

    Varying the loading with Band and/or Chain and the muscle involvement can be as simple as decreasing the load and attaching heavier bands, or wrapping the band you have around the bar a couple of time.

    The loading can also be change by increasing the weight while using a lighter band.

    Kenny Croxdale
  13. Geoff Chafe

    Geoff Chafe Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    @kennycro@@aol.com You would recommend to use bands or don’t use bands? As opposed to cycling them in and out?

    Free Squat without bands and use bands on Box Squat?

    I do vary the setup and weight of the bands for variety and progression.
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  14. kennycro@@aol.com

    kennycro@@aol.com More than 500 posts

    My suggestion is to maintain Accommodating Resistance Exercise into one training program.

    That will work.

    That works.

    Kenny Croxdale
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  15. Philippe Geoffrion

    Philippe Geoffrion More than 500 posts

    So a reverse band squat with more weight on the bar than one could free squat for a Max effort lift wouldn't fall under supramaximal?
  16. Bro Mo

    Bro Mo Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    I've done both. I prefer and originally started using them at the bottom for increasing the accommodating resistance and eccentric force due to relatively low volume each week. I vary the band and work up to a 2 rep max in various squat and bench press variations.

    I only recently started using reverse bands; they are confidence inspiring more than anything from what I can tell at this point. I think they are also good for deloading or reducing intensity with max weights.
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2019
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  17. Bro Mo

    Bro Mo Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    For a while I was running the bands under my back on bench press and under feet, over shoulders for squats. Once I decided I like the accommodating resistance for the reasons Kenny mentioned about the top of the lifts I decided to make more legit mounts. Here is what I did in the basement to rig this up without mounting to the concrete floor and having a short ceiling that doesn't accommodate a full rack.

    I only use a doubled over red band for reverse band squats. Doubled heavier bands don't seem to have much purpose on the squat because the tension of a doubled band is really high. They are too loose at the top if not doubled over in the squat.

    I use red, black, or purple for regular banded squats and regular or reverse bands bench press.

    *They aren't both used at the same time, that is only for minimizing the number of pics.
    IMG_20191108_180359238.jpg IMG_20191108_180420134.jpg
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2019
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  18. Philippe Geoffrion

    Philippe Geoffrion More than 500 posts

    You have a very nice set-up there @Bro Mo I haven't much used bands because I've always, possibly mistakenly, presumed they helped geared lifters a bit more and I've substituted D.E. days for R.E. type work as I've always been faster than I am strong but perhaps accommodating resistance is a madding element I should include in future training.
  19. william bad butt

    william bad butt More than 300 posts

    Yes! I like using RB when I am lifting 85+% 1RM via linear periodization. I'll do X sets of 1 rep with the RB, 1 week prior, to get used to the heavy load. For example, this week I might do my work sets at 85% and then do a couple singles with 90% with RB. Then next week do my work sets with 90% and use 95% with a RB.
  20. Antti

    Antti More than 2500 posts

    I understand that accomodating resistance can be used to make the resistance bigger throughout the range of motion, but is this really desirable?

    Every training we do comes with an opportunity cost. Changing the mechanics of the lift may make us use our recovery capability outside the specific points where we need it the most.

    I can see value in something like reverse band bench press, especially for lifters weak near lockout, spending their recovery capability where it matters the most, and also getting used to heavier weights. But loading the squat heavier at the top; for what?

    I would choose wisely what to do with the bands and chains and how. I don't buy them being necessary or something one should use most of the time.
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