This past weekend I attended the Niagara Open, an Ontario Powerlifting Association powerlifting meet hosted by the Niagara Powerlifting Club. A couple of my Toronto Rex Powerlifting club teammates were lifting and I was there to support them. While I was there I had the opportunity to pick up a Titan Ram from the Canadian Titan Support Systems rep, Louis Levesque. The Ram is similar to the Slingshot or the Metal Catapult.
I asked expert bench presser Curd Hos of Hostyle Conditioning how he used this type of equipment in his bench press training and he said they used it as an assistance exercise or on speed day. This sounded good to me so I took it to the gym today to see how it worked.
My regular bench press sets went very well and I was able to increase my volume at my top work weight for the third straight week. After hitting three sets of 5 at my top weight of 265 lbs, I put the Ram on and tried it out. I was able to do triples at 275 and 295 very easily. Despite the bar moving very fast, I could still feel the load at the top end of the range of motion when the Ram was unloaded. My top set at 315 ended up being two reps with a failure on the third. I missed the third rep due to a lack of speed off the chest and fatigue in my triceps.
Even though the Ram provides a decent amount of help at the bottom of the lift, the ability to overload the volume over a full range of motion creates a significant amount of stress. After this first exposure to the Ram, I could see how it could be a very valuable training tool. It's much easier to use than reverse bands, especially in my case since the half racks at my gym only allow for a traditional band set up where they load the top of the lift. The Ram also doesn't provide too much assistance--in my case a good thing since I could already feel some strain holding the weight at arm's length. After tweaking my shoulders almost two years ago handling +100 lbs over my raw max while working with a bench shirt, the last thing I want to do now is overload my joints to the extent I re-injure myself.
After the three sets with the Ram, I did two drop down sets of normal bench presses. My triceps were pretty shot but the repetitions went well.
I was also able to increase my repetitions in the bar dip without any pain in my shoulders. Overall, this was one of the best bench workouts I've had in a long time. Very happy with how my shoulders have been feeling over the past couple of months. Feels good to be able to make progress again.
Bench Press: 135x10, 135x5, 185x5, 225x5, 245x5, 265x5x3 sets
Add Titan Ram: 275x3, 295x3, 315x2, failed on the third rep.
Bench Press: 245x4, 225x
Face Pulls: 50x15x3 sets
Rope Pushdowns: 50x12x2 sets