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In preparing for a powerlifting meet I have seen lots of overthinking, overworking, and overstressing when it comes to people figuring out how to setup their training cycle to perform the best on competition day. Even those who are not powerlifters should get something from the following article by seeing an extremely simple, yet extremely effective method for maximizing performance for a specific day. Although the system in this article is incredibly simple to put into place, it also happens to work like a charm every time. I call it the 3, 2, 1, 0 Meet Countdown.

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Recently I presented at University of Western States Chiropractic College on the topic of the bench press. I often get questions from the clinical community about the bench press. The deadlift and squat are discussed quite frequently as functional and corrective movement patterns, but the bench press is the dirty little step child that never gets covered in these environment, making it the most asked topic from this community. If it is covered, the posturally correct flat back or “sternal crunch” bench press is considered the most functional and preferred pattern.

Yet the question always remains: why can you bench more with an arch then? Correct patterns on the squat and deadlift help you lift more but the bench does not. Additionally, it’s easy to observe more shoulder deviation and control of shoulder centration/position with the flat back bench than an arched bench. Often times, people with lack of control of shoulder position can be corrected almost immediately by placing them into an arch. This is counter to what one would expect if you’re moving from a correct/functional position to an incorrect.

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One of the greatest things about powerlifting is that it is a sport of passion. There are not careers made or money of any significance for winning big meets. The athletes are in the sport and stay in the sport for purely personal reasons. This is what makes the community so strong and why people identify themselves as powerlifters. Success in the sport also generally takes a long time and so this level of commitment beyond extrinsic rewards is a requirement. The downside of all this is that the sport requires the ability to balance competing priorities for time in life.

This is a struggle we all face. For those that have either highly competitive lifting careers, professional careers, or other competing demands, it becomes an even greater struggle.

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In this interview, I sit down with Ryan “Bench Monster” Kennelly. Ryan recently took a several year hiatus from the sport after dominating the shirted bench press world for quite some time. Ryan has more over 1000-pound competition bench presses than any other lifter. His best record-setting lift was an incredible 1075. Many people probably are not aware that of benchers of his caliber, Ryan is one of the very few who have never had any major pec or shoulder issue requiring medical intervention. Ryan is a master of the technical aspect of benching and doing so safely to preserve his lifting career. In this interview we discuss his return to the sport and his goals.

WATCH: Chris Duffin Interviews All-Time Record Holder Sam Byrd

An athlete recently asked me how to achieve peak conditioning and peak strength levels simultaneously. To his disappointment I noted this realistically could not be achieved. It’s not the case, however, that one entirely negates the other. In fact the correct interplay of both conditioning and strength can maximize your performance in either.

Maximizing performance in your desired objective (either strength or conditioning) doesn’t mean simply incorporating the opposite and hoping for the best. Imagine an endurance runner tossing in a bunch of strength training leading into a running event or a large out of shape powerlifter slamming out a bunch of cardio leading into a meet. In both scenarios the athlete will likely reduce their performance. CrossFit has done an excellent job at incorporating training across the strength and conditioning spectrum (or broad modal domains in CF language), but at the same time its athletes are not in “peak” shape for any specific points within those spectrums.

Every Sunday our coaches answer YOUR questions! Have a question and you want to know what the experts have to say? Email us at [email protected]

And don’t forget “Dear Willow.” Our resident yoga expert, Willow Ryan, is here to give you guidance on yoga, meditation, and the mind-body connection. Email your question for her to [email protected].com and check for her response on Saturdays.

Dear Coach,

I was wondering if I could get some advice on protein intake. Recently I’ve been eating a bit more but my meals haven’t been balanced and I feel like my progress is shortened to a point because of it. Today for breakfast I randomly decided to have a huge breakfast consisting of lots of grains, fruits, vitamins, and oatmeal. This breakfast totalled out to be about 70-90 grams of protein, as well as lots of calories and carbs. This is one of the first times I have ever eaten a breakfast this big and it had a huge effect on my vitality and energy throughout the day.