Upper Body Speed Strength Session

This week the focus with training was on upper body speed and strength.  Todd Carlon of Elite Sports Performance had planned the session out with a focus on speed work.  The session included a number of exercises that I have never used before as well as  adaptation to existing exercises.  These will be outlined in the post below.

Using Powerbands with Bench Press

Something new that was added to today’s session was the addition of powerbands to the chest press.  My thoughts on the idea behind the powerbands is that it forces the individual to be stable throughout the unracking phase of the bar, the bands encourage a much faster decent of the bar on decent and that the individual is required to work harder with the weight through motion.  That is, as the bar travels away from the chest on the upwards pressing motion, greater resistance develops.  All in all, the bands were great and I will be certainly adding these to my training sessions in the future.

A great place to source these powerbands is from IronEdge in Melbourne.  I have bought many powerbands from this business and found them to be great.  Check out the website at www.kettlebells.com.au/store/

Note:  I do not receive any kickbacks from any of the webpages that I have listed.  Rather, I would prefer to recommend good businesses and people who I deal with.

Using the Maxagrip Bars for Lat Pull Downs

These bars were great for varying up the Lat Pull Down.  The neutral grip means that the individual has to vary their grip to that of the conventional pronated or supinated grip.  The variety of bars also makes the Lat Pull Down exercise varied in terms of where the muscle is hit during training.  Check these out at http://www.maxagrip.com/products.html.

Another great thing that Todd has challenged me with when training at Elite Sports Performance is to constantly vary the grips, hand positions and weight movements. More often than not, most of us stick with what is familiar i.e. Lat Pull Down with pronated grip rather than varying up our grip and bar types.  The same can be said for many exercises.  Varying up the exercise frequently places different stresses on the body and requires our muscles to be constantly adapting and working to a new challenge.

Gym Aware
The Gym Aware is a great tool that can used by the individual to determine their power output with regards to lifting.  The power output can be measured over one or many lifts.  The great thing about this also is that the individual is video recorded and you can immediately get feedback regarding lifting technique.  The general consensus at Elite Sports Performance is to aim about 400 watts output on lifts.  If you can hit 500 on the lifts, even better.  You will be training your body to produce greater power which will hopefully translate across into greater athletic power and performance.

Check out the GymAware @ http://powertool.gymaware.com/

So, time to get onto the Speed Session.  I have also included some exercises to demo these.  These videos have been sourced from YouTube.


Upper Body Prehab

1. Lateral raise
2. Anterior raise
3. Posterior raise

Exercise1 set 10 reps – thumb down grip
1 set 10 reps – thumb up grip

4. Powerband Pull Aparts – Standing Powerband Pull Aparts

5. Powerband Pull Aparts – Bent over Powerband Pull Aparts

1 set 10 reps – palm up grip
1 set 10 reps – palm down grip


Main Session

1. Bench Press

Warm Up
3 sets – 8 reps
Focus: Technique,Upper Body Warm Up

Working Sets
8 – 10 sets – 2 reps
Focus:  Speed, Technique


  • Keep the shoulders retracted and downward, hard against the bench
  • Avoid anterior rolling of the shoulders on unracking the bar and on the end range pushing chest movement
  • Pull the bar down towards your chest on the downwards phase of the movement
  • Push the bar away from you with speed
  • Core & Lower body.  Keep the core and lower body tight.  Legs spread, flat on the ground

Muscles Worked: Pec major, minor, triceps, anterior deltoid, Stability muscles – Lats, lower and mid trapezius, rotator cuff

Supplementary/Accessory Lifts

1. 45 Degree Lying T Bar Row

2 sets palm up wide grip – 8 reps
2 sets palm down wide grip – 8 reps
2 sets hammer grip – 8 reps

Focus:  Conditioning Work, Downwards and retracted scapular positioning


  • Keep the shoulders retracted and in the downwards position
  • Drive the movement through the elbows, not the hands
  • Keep the chest agains the bench
  • Keep the feet flat on the ground or plate and keep the body tight

Avoid:  Always try to keep the scapulars down and back throughout the movement, try to avoid anterior rolling of the shoulder

Muscle groups:  Lats, Traps, Rhomboids, Rotator Cuff


2. Lat Pull Down
2 sets Narrow Grip Maxagrip – 8 reps
2 sets Wide Grip  Maxagrip- 8 reps

The Maxigrip is a great tool to use to vary up the Lat Pull Down exercise.  The feel of it on the hands was great and very different to the conventional lat pull down bar.  Again the focus is on training the body with a variety of grip positions.

Focus:  Conditioning work for the back


  • Drive the movement through the elbows, not the hands
  • Try and bend the bar like you would with a bench press, that is keep the lats tight and don’t open up through the shoulder too much
  • Maintain retracted and downward rotated scapular positioning

Avoid:  Rolling the shoulders forward, not driving the movement through the elbows, not taking the exercise through full range
Muscle groups:  Lat Dorsi


3. Standing Face Pulls
4 sets – 8 reps

Focus:  Conditioning work for upper back and scapular stabilisers


  • Keep the arms high
  • Pull through and feel the scapulars retracting
  • Keep the scapular positioned down and back
  • Avoid anterior rolling of the shoulders

Muscle Groups:  Rhomboids, Traps



4. Chuck V’s
3 sets
8 reps

Standing with V grip handle, lock the elbows at 90 degrees and drive the elbows down to the body.
Focus: Conditioning work for the back


  • Pull through the elbows
  • Keep the spine neutral


5. Hanging Leg Raises

3 sets – 8 reps

Focus:  Conditioning work core


Osteopath Heath Williams is owner and director of Principle Four Osteopathy.  He has a special interest in sports injuries, corrective exercise and rehabilitation.  Heath has completed his Level 1 Strength & Conditioning course with Australian Strength and Conditioning Association, as well as many other rehab courses taught by well renowned Osteopaths and Physiotherapists.

Principle Four Osteopathy is located in the heart of the Melbourne City CBD 3000 at 29 Somerset Place, Melbourne City CBD 3000 (near the corner of Little Bourke & Elizabeth St).  To book an appointment, please call 03 9670 9290 or book online @ www.principlefourosteopathy.com