Criteria for ROM in Barbell Movements Criteria for ROM in Barbell Movements

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Thread: Criteria for ROM in Barbell Movements

  1. #1
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    Default Criteria for ROM in Barbell Movements

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    Hey Rip,

    Before I ask the fated question, which is certain to invite claims of being a 'half-repper' or a total wuss by somebody in this forum, I want you to know that I have studied the material you've written regarding the program, the lifts, the anatomy, everything, but I have not been able to move past the issues I am bringing up in these questions. I have greatly enjoyed the program and purchased the books, as well as a bunch of stuff from some of the SSC's. Technically there are two questions, but I only see one:

    Do we set the criteria for a full ROM for each official movement in SS on the path of the bar with respect to the lifter, or the lifter's movement with respect to the bar?

    In the Squat and Press, we use the lifter's body to determine the full ROM, and where the bar ends up is simply placed on the lifter. If the top of the knee is above the apex of the hip crease, then we say the lifter has achieved depth according to their anthropometry, and we really don't care how far the bar traveled because that changes relative to the lifter's leg lengths, height, proportions, etc. Likewise, the press starting position is achieved when the elbows are slightly ahead of the bar when the forearms are perpendicular to the floor after the lifter takes a shoulder width grip. This places the bar either on the deltoids or 'floating' above them, depending on the lifters' forearm length relative to the humerus. Again, this places the bar in a position relative to the lifter, so we could care less where the bar touches because the lifter's anthropometry determines the ROM for a correctly executed press.

    So why does that not happen for the Bench Press and the Deadlift?

    I understand that the Bench Press is "complete" when the bar touches the chest, but to me that is analogous to someone wanting a "complete" press by forcing the bar to touch the deltoids, even at the expense of the correctly executed movement by the lifter-based criteria, or an ATG squatter who insists on doing so because if it doesn't touch, it doesn't matter, regardless of the expense of that position to the low back for most lifters. I have been paying close attention to where the elbows end up, especially on guys with small rib cages and longer arms, and it seems that some guys have to dip the elbows way below the shoulder line when bench pressing, compared to a guy with a huge rib cage and short arms, that may only have their elbows slightly lower than their shoulder, relative to the floor, when in the bottom position of the movement. I understand that the touching point represents an easy way to quantify a completed rep, but so is an ATG squat. Do we accept that as a marker because tracking the elbows would be too much work for a coach, or because power lifting competitions require a bench press bar to touch the chest? I can only assume that something about the anatomy nullifies this, which is what I am hoping you can clarify for me.

    The deadlift starting position bothers me for the same reason, in that it is based on the diameter of the plates, not the anthropometry of the lifter. I mean, I can make those plates as wide as I want, and technically it would still be a deadlift. If we agree on a standard bar diameter, what goes into that decision? I see athletes using deficit deadlifts, or even deadlifts in a rack that change the heights of the 'official' movement, but what determined the official diameter of the plates anyway, and therefore the official height for the deadlift? York? Gold's Gym? Somebody somewhere in a IPF competition? I only mention this because the other lifts (Squat and Press) determine the correct starting/ending position relative to the lifter, e.g. when the arms/legs are fully extended is one end of the ROM, and then specific physical markers determine the other end, which has nothing to do with the bar itself. The ROM moves the bar with respect to the lifter, and so can take into account anthropometry. But, the Bench Press and the Deadlift are both forcing the lifter into a specific end/start position (respectively) of the ROM with respect to the equipment, which cannot possibly adjust to the lifter. The lifter has to adjust to the bar's position for a correct rep.

    Am I seriously overthinking this? Are these criteria in place to make things easier for people? Should we change the diameter of the plates for some people? Should we bench with a cambered bar and pay attention to elbow position to improve the bench?

    Thank you for your time,
    CDG

  2. #2
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    This has been discussed at length over the years, and it's not interesting. The equipment provides certain limitations and advantages to various anthropometries. If you don't want to touch your chest with the bar, don't. Discuss it if you like.

  3. #3
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    You're looking at this too competitively, man. Different proportions just provide advantages on different lifts. A guy like me who's built like a spider (small torso, long limbs) is going to be hindered a bit on absolute weight lifted with both types of presses, and probably even the squat. But when it comes time to deadlifting, those proportions become an advantage. But the main goal is to become stronger, not to necessarily achieve the biggest number on the bar possible. If you want to lift competitively, you have to change some things. If the program were just a powerlifting program, the bench press grip width guidance would be very different. It would just be to take the competition max width allowed and work with that. But doing that shortens the range of motion and can cause a greater risk of shoulder injury. The end result is a less productive lift as far as building strength, even though you can get more pounds on the bar that way.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Rippetoe View Post
    This has been discussed at length over the years, and it's not interesting. The equipment provides certain limitations and advantages to various anthropometries. If you don't want to touch your chest with the bar, don't. Discuss it if you like.
    I'm sorry for the boring question. I get that different advantages come with having different limb length ratios, rib cage diameter, etc. I deal with asymmetry in my shoulders, arms, and legs, but I still enjoy training the way you covered in the books, and I do so without pain. I know that a certain upper limit exists for everybody, but I enjoyed the ride, and I squat far more than I did before, and I never deadlifted until reading SS. I also touch the bar to my chest on every rep, but I do assistance DB presses that allow me to go even deeper, again without pain, which brought up the question for me in the first place. I also read that article on Mike McDonald, who seemed to have a special affinity for them.

    I was just asking specifically with the bench because of criteria #3 (over the longest effective range of motion) for the exercises. Besides where the bar crashes into the sternum, is there any other physical indicators, such as elbow position, that could also, in theory, be used to determine the ROM for the bench press, if the equipment wasn't a straight bar? Does it not matter because the chest 'takes over' in the bottom of the movement? Would it ever be appropriate to lengthen that ROM because it is more effective for some, but shorten it for others, again due to the difficulties of leverage in the barbell-based ROM? I'm not trying to burn down the house here, I am honestly interested in your explanation of this, and I haven't found much detail beyond "no partial reps," which to be fair, is a good argument. I am asking about the criteria for the defined rep, not the idea of being inconsistent with reps by benching a full ROM on Monday and then "half-repping" on Tuesday for a fake PR.

    Quote Originally Posted by CommanderFun View Post
    You're looking at this too competitively, man. Different proportions just provide advantages on different lifts. A guy like me who's built like a spider (small torso, long limbs) is going to be hindered a bit on absolute weight lifted with both types of presses, and probably even the squat. But when it comes time to deadlifting, those proportions become an advantage. But the main goal is to become stronger, not to necessarily achieve the biggest number on the bar possible. If you want to lift competitively, you have to change some things. If the program were just a powerlifting program, the bench press grip width guidance would be very different. It would just be to take the competition max width allowed and work with that. But doing that shortens the range of motion and can cause a greater risk of shoulder injury. The end result is a less productive lift as far as building strength, even though you can get more pounds on the bar that way.
    I understand the difference in body types/limb lengths, and when someone is built well with explosive genetics, they can do some amazing things, which is great! My question is specifically related to the way we defined the ROM in the first place, which seems more imposed by the bar position vs. the lifters position. The best explanations that I have heard regarding the deadlift is that most people, albeit 99% with very few exceptions, can get their back into proper extension when the barbell is loaded at the "standard" height off the floor. BUT, then we get into the weeds with the "if works for most people" argument which does not guarantee that the ROM is effective to them. All that really means is that most people can, by hook or by crook, force their body into a position and do what someone else is doing. The equipment certainly accounts for this, which is why different specialty bars exist that allow people to squat without forcing abnormally long forearms behind the bar, or damaged shoulders into positions that they just won't do anymore. An effective ROM should be determined by the anthropometry of the lifter, as it is in the Squat and Press. I'm willing to concede the deadlift, because rack pulls exist, but what about the Bench?

    Again, I'm not severely studied on the anatomy, is there a reason why elbows breaking the plane of the shoulders (with respect to the floor) wouldn't serve as a useful indicator, if we lived in a world with specialty bench bars? Would this evolve the Bench Press as an exercise beyond the constraints of the equipment, and elevate it to a place of respect along with the other lifts, instead of the 'easy' one everyone does because you basically lay down to do it?

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