Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Over the top: how to build strong tendons pt 1/3 partials

It's hard to think about what to write about for a blog. I mean its easy to come up with topics thats not the problem since there is about six billion websites talking about strength and nutrition that I could copy.

In fact just about any topic I write about is going to end up being rehash of older material. I mean truthfully unless you are on the forefront of emerging research whatever you write about is coming from someplace else for inspiration.

Nevertheless, the one thing I can offer is to prevent information with my witty sense of humor and some time vulgar tongue.

So anyways I was thinking what should I write about and was thinking about tendon strength or rather methods to increase tendon strength.

It is one thing to increase muscle strength and this appears to be slightly easier but it doesn't always go hand in hand with tendon strength. However, strong tendons do usually along with muscle strength.

Increasing tendon strength is much slower though and a bit more time consuming but I find that the exercises that increase tendon strength are much more fun to do.

In todays series we are going to talk gymnastic progressions in calisthenics, static holds and partials.

So what is a tendon?

From Wikipedia:
tendon (or sinew) is a tough band of fibrous connective tissue that usually connects muscle to bone[1] and is capable of withstanding tension. Tendons are similar to ligaments and fasciae; all three are made of collagen. Ligaments join one bone to another bone; fasciae connect muscles to other muscles. Tendons and muscles work together to move bones.
Tendons have been traditionally considered to simply be a mechanism by which muscles connect to bone, functioning simply to transmit forces. This connection allows tendons to passively modulate forces during locomotion, providing additional stability with no active work. However, over the past two decades, much research focused on the elastic properties of some tendons and their ability to function as springs. Not all tendons are required to perform the same functional role, with some predominantly positioning limbs, such as the fingers when writing (positional tendons) and others acting as springs to make locomotion more efficient (energy storing tendons).[17] Energy storing tendons can store and recover energy at high efficiency. For example, during a human stride, the Achilles tendon stretches as the ankle joint dorsiflexes. During the last portion of the stride, as the foot plantar-flexes (pointing the toes down), the stored elastic energy is released. Furthermore, because the tendon stretches, the muscle is able to function with less or even no change in length, allowing the muscle to generate greater force.
There is more explaining what these are but you get the idea they connect tissue to bone and can act like springs. I'm sure their is more to it then that but for the sake of people plagued by a fictional psychiatric disease like ADHD and are taking handfuls of methamphetamine to pay attention I leave it at that.

When I think of guys with strong tendons and who are also amazingly strong I think of someone like Chuck Sipes who was basically a god of drug-free bodybuilding and could bench press more then the weight of Liam Neesons cock.

Don't let this man grab your penis

His penis is more legendary then John Ham just ask Kevin Smith and Ralph Garmin
Sipes not only had a physique to marvel at but he was also a practicing strong man who would bend steel with his bare hands.

Supposedly Chuck cold bench press 600 lbs and was a huge fan of partial lifts and holds for bench press.

From Tim Ferriss' The Bench Press Interviews:

One of the best ways you can overcome your training plateau is by using the “Heavy Supports” technique. This was first popularized by Chuck Sipes, a former Mr. America who was known for his amazing strength in all lifts. After completing his bench press routine, he would support at arms-length an extremely heavy load for 5 seconds. When he was able to complete 4 sets of 10 seconds with that weight, he would further increase it. He claimed it built “tendon strength” for lack of a better explanation.

The truth of the matter is that “Heavy Supports” help heighten the shutdown threshold of the Golgi Tendon Organ (GTO), which is a tension/stretch receptor located in the tendon of a muscle. The GTO inhibitory effect can be seen when two people of uneven strength levels arm-wrestle. The weaker person - when losing - will look like he suddenly quits as his wrist is suddenly slammed to the table. What is really happening is that the GTO perceives a rapid rate of stretch during the eccentric contraction, and yells to the brain, “Better shut down the contraction, or my biceps tendon is going to roll up under my tonsils!”

The brain sends a rapid message to inhibit the contraction in order to prevent a,muscle tear. You can raise that threshold by interspacing 8 seconds of heavy isometric holds a.k.a. “supports” in between regular sets.
Sipes was a monster when it cam to tendon strength and apparently knew how to shut off a subconscious mechanism that allowed him to lift more weight.

So partials are basically something you do in a power rack. Figure out a lift, load a bar up with more then you can handle, set the pins to limit range of motion then lift, hold, repeat.

It is that easy and my favorites are partial deadlifts since I look the most brutal doing it, builds grip and it helps to build up trap strength. I'm a pretty small guy but I've managed to work my way up to a 600 lb partial deadlift.

The snickers of pussies at your gym will be sure to fill the air as they continue to clean and jerk 25-lb bumper plates.

Video is of Jaimie Lewis doing some serious trap training.

Another awesome dude who was a big proponent of partials was Olympic Weight Lifting god and the first person to hit a 1000-lb squat was Paul Anderson.

Half-way to a heart attack Anderson was a god among men and another strongman who utilized a ditch digging method to propel his squat to ungodly limits before equipped lifting existed.

get this man a cheese burger

From T-Nation:
Squats from pins were popularized by one of the strongest men ever to walk this earth, Paul Anderson. Paul would work at various positions to improve his strength, even setting up a barbell on the grass and digging a hole underneath to squat the bar from different heights.

A variation on this lift is to use a front squat instead of a back squat position.This variation will build explosive power for the squat since the lifter must generate a ton of force to get the bar moving off the pins. This is also beneficial for athletes having trouble coming out of the bottom during cleans.
This can be a max effort lift done for singles or used as an assistance lift for moderate reps. Use different pin heights to work on different weak points. The clean grip or cross handgrip can both be used depending upon personal preference.
In the next article of this series we will talk about the ultimate display of tendon strength gymnastics calisthenics. Pt3. will be about strongman, gymnastics for sport and arm wrestling

and because no one asked for it:

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