you are pushing. Granted, if you are a
bodybuilder you may not need to do singles but for the rest of us inserting
singles in a program can be helpful for various reasons. In fact I
swear by them. Let's face it everyone that lifts weights can't help
but talk about it. Just the fact that you're bigger than most people
you socialize with or meet will often spark a conversation on the
topic. Whether your buddy lifts or knows nothing about it you are
likely to be asked the question, "How much can you bench press?" Are
you going to reply, I can do 315 lbs for 6 repetitions? It just
doesn't paint the same picture as saying I put up 365 lbs. Maybe you
could care less what people think and the bragging rights don't
matter to you. However if you are a powerlifter or an Olympic lifter
you will be tested with a one-rep max. Most high school and college
football programs test their players with a one-rep max as well. If
you don't practice the one rep lift how will you be prepared?
If somebody asks you what you bench press, you could always give
them a projected max based on what the chart says right? Not
necessarily. One of the most important reasons for doing singles is
to break past barriers. Using our previous example, if you do 315
lbs for 6 reps you should be able to get a one-rep max of 365 lbs.
This is not always the case. People set up limits in their minds
that are tough to overcome. I swear I have seen people do 295 lbs
for three reps but they just can't get 300 lbs. This has nothing to
do with strength. This has to do with mental barriers and confidence
issues. I personally would not tell someone my one rep max based on
reps. If I know that I have never benched that weight than I just
can't take credit for it based on a chart. Performing a single lift
in the bench is a great way to build confidence. Nothing feels
better than actually beating your personal best. If you keep doing
singles you will break past sticking points and barriers that you
have set for yourself. If you have a goal of benching 300 or 400 lbs
the numbers can be very difficult to prepare for when you don't
practice singles. Working your way up with singles will give you the
confidence you need to reach your goals.
Many bodybuilders concentrate on their form and don't care about how
much their max is. Lifting singles can actually help your form. When
you are performing a one-rep max you have to have perfect form or
you will not complete the lift successfully. When you are using
lighter weight and doing many reps there is a lot of room for
cheating and bad form. You can still complete the lift with sub par
form by using other muscles to help. But, when you are maxing out
you have only one chance to press the weight and to do so you need
absolutely perfect form. You have to be mentally prepared and your
groove has to be precise. There is no room for being sloppy. Before
you start working out with singles it's a good idea to practice
strict form with higher reps first. Developing perfect technique is
the key to a heavy single. If you are lifting 275 with careless
technique for five reps you won't be able to do a single of any
significance. Build a base and let your body adjust to the heavier
workloads. For 2 weeks lift with reps of five. After you have
finished this stage you can progress and do sets of 3 reps. Now your
form should be down and you have should have adjusted to lifting
heavier weights. You can now insert singles to your routine that
will help you in your quest for a big bench.
Exploit your weak areas with a single. Like I mentioned before there
is more room for error when doing sets with higher reps. You may not
be able to determine what aspect of the bench needs work. When you
max out you will tend to see where you fell short. This is great for
evaluating what area needs improvement. Maybe you couldn't lock out
and you know that you need to work harder on your triceps. Lifting
is all trial and error and the single is an effective way to measure
your progress and assess what needs to be changed to break the
Singles will help you develop a different kind of strength compared
to lifting higher reps. When you lift heavy weights you bring your
attachments into the lift. Tendons and ligaments are often the key
to unlocking your potential. If you are constantly lifting with
higher reps you don't activate your attachments. Functional strength
lies in not in the muscles but in your tendons and ligaments. You've
heard the expression that you are only as strong as your weakest
link. Lifting heavier weight will strengthen your weakest link,
which may not be getting the attention it so desperately deserves.
To follow are some tips for a successful single. Proper warm up is
essential to prevent a tear. At the same time there is a balance
between warming up and tiring yourself out. I recommend the
following before doing a single.
- Warm up set of 10 reps with a very light weight.
- Set of 5-6 reps.
- Set of 2-3 with a heavier weight.
- Set for 1 rep with a weight closer to your max.
- Perform your single.
Some experts think that when performing a single you need a shorter
rest period between sets because the progression of sets in warm up
is shorter than in your normal workout. Powerlifters will assume
that because they are dealing with heavier weights they need a
longer rest period between sets. I recommend waiting until you have
completely returned to your normal breathing pace. Once this has
happened get yourself mentally prepared and than it's time for
another set. Don't wait so long that you get tight. Let somebody
else do a set, get a drink of water and visualize your next lift.
Performing a back off set at the end of your single lift will help
you preserve the workload. It will also give you the pump that you
are looking for.
this advice and you can incorporate singles into your program. Doing them
once a month is a good starting point but as you become more experienced
it is okay to do them more often. Everyone is different so try for
yourself and let singles help you build confidence, strengthen your
attachments, exploit your weak point, develop perfect form, and break past
your personal barriers.