Q: I’m a very big supporter of full-range Positions of Flexion. It makes total sense and has built lots of muscle for me. I’ve noticed that on some triceps routines you use close-grip bench presses as the midrange move, while on others you pick decline extensions. Close-grip benches have more synergy [muscle teamwork], so shouldn’t that always be the big triceps midrange exercise?
A: Thanks for the support and thumbs-up for POF. To answer your question, yes, close-grip bench presses—I favor the decline version—do provide more synergy, as they’re a compound exercise; the chest and delts help overload the triceps. If you’re using a program in which you train triceps after chest on the same day, however, doing close-grip bench presses would be somewhat redundant. You’ve already hit the triceps with pressing moves.
In that case you’re better off with a single-joint move like lying or decline extensions, a.k.a. skull crushers. A good example is the Basic program outlined on pages 28 to 30 in the e-book X-traordinary X-Rep Workout.
At workout 1 you train chest, delts, triceps and abs. You do press moves for both chest and delts, so a more isolated, or single-joint, extension exercise is best for midrange triceps work.
At workout 2 you train legs.
At workout 3 you hit lats, midback and biceps. Bi’s are affected the same way tri’s are. While undergrip chins or pulldowns are multijoint, midrange biceps exercises, you want to use a single-joint biceps exercise, barbell curls, here because you did pulldowns and rows at the beginning of the workout.
Some programs can go either way. Take the Phase 1 Size Surge routine for example. Here’s that split:
Monday: Quads, hamstrings, chest, back, delts, calves
Wednesday: Deadlifts, calves, biceps, triceps, forearms, abs
Friday: Quads, hamstrings, chest, back, delts, calves
The original Size Surge program is set up with all single-joint exercises on direct arm day, which is Wednesday; however, if you feel you need some extra chest work, you can substitute close-grip bench presses for lying extensions. If you feel you need more back work, you can substitute undergrip chins or pulldowns for barbell curls. That gives you three hits each week for either of those areas.
Editor’s note: Steve Holman is the author of many bodybuilding best-sellers and the creator of Positions-of-Flexion muscle training. For information on the POF videos and Size Surge programs, visit www.X-Rep.com for information on X-Rep and 3D POF methods and e-books. IM