I’ve touched on it in a few posts before.
The Cornell Program uses it.
And I use it with the wrestlers I train from time to time.
So I’d finally like to detail Manual Resistance. Additionally, I’d like to cover how you may be able to implement it in your lifting program.
I don’t want to cover all of the benefits, risks, etc. with this style of training, especially because it’s already been done. So instead I’ll just let you know where you can find the info and then we’ll dive into some of my preferred ways to use it.
First, here’s a link to a Bodybuilding.com article on Manual Resistance. It’s really thorough and if you have a lot of questions on this type of training, that’s a great resource.
And here’s a link to a quick breakdown on the Princeton Tigers athletic page. They basically restate what the Bodybuilding.com article says. However, everything is summarized in a sentence so it’s a much faster read.
Alright, now that that’s out of the way, let’s get into it.
This was, if I remember correctly, the first exercise I used with Manual Resistance.
At the time I was lifting with two partners, which works a lot better than using one person.
Here’s how it looked:
Because you’re working with two people, feedback is important. Let each partner know how they’re doing and what can be done to balance out the resistance being applied.
A great time to use Manual Resistance with the Back Extension is if you don’t have access to bands and you’re starting to find it difficult to hold large dumbbells behind your head.
For the guys I work with, that usually happens around a 45-pound dumbbell. After that, it just becomes too much of a pain in the ass. That’s when I progress them to bands.
However, like I said, if you don’t have access to bands, this may be a good time to consider using Manual Resistance.
This exercise is also easier to perform with two partners. However, it can be done with one person.
Here’s how to do it with two:
And here’s how you would do it with one partner.
In this pic I switched over to the Glute Ham Raise. It makes this variation much easier if you only have one partner. So if you have access to a GHR or any kind of straight leg situp/back extension machine, this is the way to go.
If you only have access to a Decline Situp and only have one partner, use this same grip on the traps.
A Bodyweight Row is another great way to implement Manual Resistance. You can use it instead of putting your feet on a bench (as shown in this progression).
Or, because Manual Resistance is so variable, you can work it in basically whenever you want once you show “mastery” through the 2nd or 3rd progression in the post I linked to above.
Here’s the position you’ll want to get into with your partner:
Finally, there’s the exercise sequence I learned while interning at Cornell. The strength coach at the time, Tom Dilliplane, had the wrestlers performing MR curls and pressdowns with thick ropes.
Here’s what it looked like:
If you don’t have thick ropes available, looping two towels together works very well.
Quick Note- I didn’t include pushups because I started this post with a picture showing one way to perform it.
One of the best times to work Manual Resistance in is over the summer, especially if you’re new to it. It can make you really sore, particularly if you and your partner are pushing each other. Start by being conservative and consider only doing 1 or 2 sets.
In all honesty, I don’t really know if I’d do more than 3 sets of any one exercise. I also would suggest no more than 8 reps.
It’s a great way to hugely increase your time under tension (total time of the set). Ultimately, this makes it excellent for adding muscle.
However, with the increase in time under tension comes a lot of additional stress on your body. That’s why I recommend not using MR during the season (not often anyway).
Alright, that’s it for now. Let me know what questions you have on MR training and how you can work it into your program by commenting below or emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.