Tensing the Bar

When you’re lifing an implement with your body, you want that implement to become part of your body as much as possible.  This is much different than grips and placement of hands on implements you plan to throw.  Preparing to launch something utilizes a minimal grip to minimize friction.  The hands are light on the object, with little to no pressure keeping the item in place.  Lifting grip, on the other hand, is best served with maximal pre-movement tension on the bar.  There is a tightening and torque that can be manipulated by the muscles, allowing for the smallest amount of energy loss when  moving an object at rest.

Three of the four main lifts: bench, deadlift, and squat use a barbell.  (Pull-ups/chins use a fixed bar). Pre-tensing the bar before lift-off makes each movement more efficient.  The less waste, the easier it is to create and control force.

1.  Tensing the bench bar

“rip bar apart and drive shoulder blades down towards feet”

2.  Taking the slack out of a deadlift bar

“use lats to pull bar up; listen for the (chink)”

video credit: ericcressey.com

3.  Tensing the squat bar
“pull bar into body, rip apart, and pull down onto self.”

It is important to note that the deadlift sets up with the plates on ground.  The squat and bench set up with the bar resting on a rack.  There is no “slack” in a squat or bench because the bar is already taught from holding up the weight.  

The controversial idea of making a dumbbell a part of you hand applies this same principle of object manipulation before the lift.  The more you can use grip to make an implement a part of the body moving it, the less effort the lift should take.  Make things easy and you’ll be able to do more.

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