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BODYSYSTEMS.ca — How to Bench Press. Sugar coating not included.
Everyone who has ever touched a weight has most likely been asked how much they can bench. The bench press is arguably the most popular exercise because it not only develops the chest but also the triceps and anterior delts too. I owe nearly my entire chest, shoulders and triceps development to the bench press.
The “FITT” principles (frequency, intensity, time, type) are extremely important when it comes to developing a great bench. Let’s examine them here, as well as review methods and a training program to bench press like a boss!
Gym goers often make the mistake of only training each body part once per week. In order to have a great bench you need to train the bench every 4 to 5 days. More often will lead to overtraining while benching less often reduces the number of times you can improve your bench. For example, if you train bench once a week you can only improve your bench 52 times a year while training bench every 4 days allows you to improve your bench 91 times per year. If you’re feeling good, bench on the 4th day and if you’re feeling a little drained give it another days rest. If you’re not ready to destroy the bench by the 5th day you’re definitely overtraining.
This principle is what separates the true gym warriors who want to become champions from those who just think they want to be champions. I can always tell which clients will be successful based on how hard they are able to push themselves in the gym. Many people think it comes down to genetics but it really comes down to working your but off consistently for many years with a smart training and nutrition program. Not everyone can set world records but by pushing yourself to failure you will be surprised how strong you can actually become.
It’s important to spend no more than 90 minutes in the gym. However, do not listen to fad training or gimmicks which suggest that in only 20 minutes you can get the body you want (there are no shortcuts). By performing both high and low reps you vary the time the muscle is under tension allowing you to become bigger and stronger synergistically. Reps under 6 focus on strength while reps in the 8-12 range are catered towards getting bigger which allows you to get stronger long term. The time of day that you bench really does not matter. Some people think it’s best to train in the morning on an empty stomach but honestly the best time to train is when you feel like it as that’s when you are most likely to push yourself to your limits.
This principle is very important for not only the bench but also any exercise you want to improve. Performing cable cross over’s, using dumbbells or incorporating various machinery simply will not give you an impressive bench. In other words if you want a big bench you have to bench and bench often. As a rule of thumb; at least half your time spent in the gym training chest should be spent on the bench press.
The use of a sling shot (or board press if unavailable) in your bench training can be incorporated for 2 main reasons. It helps increase your triceps/lockout strength allowing you to blast through sticking points. Secondly, it allows you to consistently handle heavier loads while remaining in a rep range conducive to muscle growth. The main reason powerlifters and strength athletes do not look like bodybuilders is because they perform too few reps to increase muscle size on a consistent basis.
Using the sling shot or boards in training is the key to long term gains in both size and strength. When using the sling shot, simply bench exactly as you normally would. The beauty of the sling shot is that it allows you to train through the full range of motion with heavier loads. The compressive nature of the sling shot also helps alleviate pain in the elbows and forearms (pain which many big benchers experience).
In order to perform board presses have 2 standard 2 by 4s cut to approximately 18-24 inches. Place boards under your shirt in order to keep them in place. This will reduce your range of motion allowing you to handle heavier weights. Due to the fact that you are handling greater loads then you are accustomed to and training to failure – insure you have a spotter.
The following is a training program developed specifically to improve both your bench press strength as well as increase your muscular size. The general idea is that you lift heavier each workout for 4 training sessions while lowering the reps. After the 4 training session the weights lifted are once again reduced to point slightly higher than your previous starting point. This process continues for a period of 12 weeks at which point you are ready to perform your new 1 rep max. With your new found strength you will be able to perform more reps with heavier weights forcing your muscles to grow larger.
This 12-week training cycle is then repeated but this time starting 10-20 lb heavier than your first 12-week training program. You can expect your bench to increase by 10-20 lb every 3 months, which translates into a 40-80 lb gain in strength within a year.
Sample based on having a 315 lb, 1 rep max. Base the weights you use according to your own 1 rep max. If reps are not indicated always perform the maximum amount of reps u are capable of doing. Do each bench workout every 4-5 days depending on your own recovery ability. Rest 5-6 minutes between all max effort sets. For all other exercises rest 3-4 min. In addition to the bench press do no more than a total of 5 hard sets for chest that say. After training chest do 6-8 hard sets for shoulders followed by 4-6 hard sets for triceps.
Be sure to take in enough protein throughout the day in order to remain anabolic. In order to do this drink 1-2 scoops of whey protein in the morning and after training in order to provide your body with the amino acids it needs to repair and rebuild.