The Power Guru of Monsta Garage by Eric Burtson - A Short Review

Posted on 01 Dec 2015 22:55

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This is a short review of Eric Burtson’s tribute to the bench press specialization gym, Monsta Garage.

I recently got my hands on this book via Amazon Kindle and after reading the book I am going to give it a rating of 2 1/2 stars. This book is almost chalk-full of gym stories and various experiences the author has had at this intimidating and record setting gym called Monsta Garage located in Oceanside, California. If you strip away the fluff from the book and just look at pure information pertaining to strength training and specifically: the bench press, you will summarize this in less than a thousand words. As a result of this, I will not post a summary of the methods outlined in the book because that would literally be giving it away for free and I have no intention of stamping on the author.

Monsta Garage is a gym built for bench press specialists and is owned by powerlifting hall of fame nominee and AAU North American Bench Press record holder Daniel Fa’asamala. I consider myself a deadlift specialist but these guys at Monsta Garage take specialization to a whole new level. The only lift they train is literally the bench press. They don’t even train the usual muscles we see associated with the bench press like the shoulders, back, triceps, etc. Instead, they rely on the bench press to indirectly target and stimulate all these other muscles. They are literally a bench press only gym and they have the records to back all the talk. The lifters are Monsta Garage practice a thumb-less grip on the bench press. This grip is also referred to as the “suicide grip” throughout the book. Most of us consider such a grip very dangerous but Dan has his reasons for selecting this grip. Preaching “safe is sexy”, Dan has a unique way of training his lifters.

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To put it simply, without giving away too much from the book, lifters who have shown up to train are informally arranged from weakest to strongest. The roster lines up and the lead spotter (strongest guy in the line) will begin with the hand-off. Lifters use a deadlift barbell weighing 55 pounds on the bench press. They weights are bumped up from 55 pounds to 145 to 195 to 235, etc. Rest is kept minimal – enough to cycle through the roster, and each lifters ends up doing 10-14 work sets over the course of each workout with reps ranging from doubles and triples all the way up to failure reps in the double digits. Various techniques are used to keep pushing strength and Dan’s idea is to hit the bench press so hard that the supporting muscles get enough stimulation. At Monsta Garage they train the bench press twice a week on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Burtson’s book is severely lacking in information actually pertaining to maximal strength training for the bench press. The techniques described are very vague and almost comical. If it weren’t for the fact that there are record holders in the gym, it would seem very amateurish to train strength athletes in this manner. But, Dan walks the talk and while the book lacks applicable information to boost your bench press, it does a fantastic job at story telling of various incidents and interesting and colorful personalities Eric has bumped into over the years. Additionally, it sheds a lot of light and really emphasizes how important it is to train with the right type of people, to build a sense of family with your training partners and to forge real camaraderie with like minded passionate individuals. Don’t pick up this book expecting any knowledge bombs on bench press specialization training but definitely give it a read for powerlifting anecdotes, stories about team building and how Dan is able to instill a sense of positive growth in his team as he leads them to achieve their precious individual goals.

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