The Giant Cambered Bar: King of All Specialty Barbells
The use of specialty bars is nothing new. Many years ago, Louie demonstrated to the strength and conditioning world the effectiveness of specialty barbells when used to train powerlifters and athletes.
Today, gyms worldwide are buying specialty bars, accommodating resistance, and specialty machines to give their clients the best training tools. Once again, Louie was right. Formerly, folks criticized Lou and Westside over the use of specialty bars, and now the entire powerlifting world embraces them.
It's not an uncommon theme; many of the tools and methods Lou and Westside were previously criticized for using have now become considered vital to the training process. Today, many people utilize specialty bars and Conjugate-style periodization even though they don't want to say the word Conjugate.
They'll make up any name for their training as long as they don't have to say the word Conjugate. That's a topic for another post. This article aims to highlight the effectiveness of specialty bars, particularly the giant cambered bar. We will save criticism of the Westside haters for another day.
Here are a few ways you can utilize the giant cambered bar to build a posterior chain made of steel:
Giant Cambered Bar Squat / Box Squat
The giant cambered bar is a squat bar first and foremost, so if you are new to using the giant cambered bar, you should begin by using the bar to perform basic squats or box squats. You will notice the bar likes to swing forward, placing a tremendous demand on the posterior chain to resist the barbell's motion.
The barbell's motion forces a lifter to exert additional force to remain in control of the barbell, ultimately making the exercise more effective. If you need a study to confirm this, load up 500lbs on an Olympic bar and 500lbs on a giant cambered bar. Squat both and report back which lift was more difficult to complete.
It is crucial to adequately brace and move with maximum control to avoid excessive barbell movement. Yet another reason why the giant cambered bar is effective; it forces a lifter to exert greater control over the barbell.
We recommend performing heavy singles or triples when used as a max effort main exercise. There is no rule regarding how often you should free or box squat with the giant cambered bar. This will depend on the needs of the individual and the sport they compete in.
I free squat the first week, train good mornings the second week, box squat the third week, and deadlift the fourth week when planning a month's max-effort lower training. It is guaranteed that at least one or two workouts will feature the giant cambered bar out of those four workouts.
Giant Cambered Bar Good Mornings
In my opinion, this exercise is the greatest posterior exercise an individual can utilize. Good mornings fatigue the body similarly to a squat (easy to recover from) while providing the same posterior chain benefits associated with heavy deadlifts (not so easy to recover from).
For this reason, it is suggested that not only should you choose good mornings as a main max-effort lower exercise, but you should also regularly feature good mornings as an accessory exercise for both max-effort lower and dynamic-effort lower.
At Westside, we will typically perform three to five reps per set, including the heaviest set. Single rep good mornings are incredibly effective. I have used them frequently in my own training, but there are significant risks associated with unprepared lifters attempting max effort single rep good mornings.
If you are new to good mornings, it is likely you cannot correctly estimate your ability and durability. Performing singles becomes a walk on the tightrope, hoping you don't fall. Choose Anderson good mornings if you wish to perform a heavy single-rep good morning.
Anderson good mornings focus on the concentric portion of the lift; you start at the bottom of the movement and lift the barbell from a suspended position. An eccentric portion is involved when the athlete has to lower the barbell back to the starting point, and athletes should do this with great control.
It doesn't matter what style of giant cambered bar good morning you choose to do, do them frequently, and choose your bar weight and rep counts wisely.
How To Program the Giant Cambered Bar
Above, I briefly explained suggested rep ranges and when you should implement giant cambered bar exercises into your max effort lower programming. I will provide a basic outline displaying how to correctly program the giant cambered bar to maximize posterior chain strength gains.
Here's an example of a main exercise schedule properly utilizing the giant cambered bar:
Week 1 - Giant cambered bar squat (max single)
Week 2 - SSB good mornings (max set of 5)
Week 3 - Giant cambered bar box squat (max triple)
Week 4 - Mat deadlift (max single)
This displays what would be considered a properly organized max effort lower training schedule focusing on using the giant cambered bar.
Here is how you would organize your main accessory exercises immediately following the max effort exercises above to maximize your use of the giant cambered bar:
Week 1 - Giant cambered bar good mornings 4 x 5
Week 2 - Giant cambered bar squat 4 x 5-8
Week 3 - Giant cambered bar good mornings 3 x 10-15 (moderate weight)
Week 4 - Giant cambered bar low box squat 3 x 8-10 (moderate weight)
This may seem like an overload of the giant cambered bar. However, the strength benefits associated with this programming style cannot be overstated. In any sport, you can never have a back or posterior chain that is too strong.
In order to avoid accommodation and keep the training process productive, a coach would adjust the next month's workouts to introduce other specialty bars such as the SSB or bow bar. The examples above show how to maximize the use of the giant cambered bar to add on some additional posterior chain strength quickly.
Check out the Conjugate Club for more programming information.