are many milestones when entering the world of bench pressing. When
starting into the gym life, you might see others in the gym benching
big weight and wonder how you too can get there. Benching is an
eye-catching movement that draws a big crowd. It never seems to fail,
that if a conversation starts between two people in the gym, one will
ask the other, "So how much do you bench?"
normal gym, you might observe lifters benching in the three hundreds,
but watch someone load 8 plates on the bar and people will stop to see
if the lift goes up. If that lifter does 405 for more then one, people
will come from other rooms to watch. If that lifter goes higher into
the mid-400s or even crosses into the 500-pound press, well then, all
eyes in the gym will be focused on him and all movement in the gym will
come to a standstill.
People will always ask the lifter how he got there, the 400, 500,
or 600 pound bench press. Have you ever been one of them? Are any of
these weights one of your goals? Have you been training for months and
not seen any improvement in your strength? Are you frustrated because
it seems there are so many techniques and magazines with so many
different ideas that can't possibly be done in a normal lifestyle? Here
are my basics. My routine mixes old school intensity with some new
school methods. It ought to help with your training as well.
Listen, training for strength is a tough thing to do. In
bodybuilding, a competitor must peak at the right time to insure the
best results. In power lifting, a competitor must do the same to insure
a best lift. However, in order for a power lifter to be the best at his
best, he must first keep the "beast fed." This means eating, then
eating, and then eating some more.
Natural powerlifting is very tough on the body. The main things the
body has to restore itself from the beating is rest and food. I hate to
use a cliché, but you definitely are what you eat. If you want to be
strong, you have to eat for it.
Now bear in mind that this article is specially geared for the
natural lifter. I know there are many out there who want to perfect the
bench press, naturally. I personally believe lifting natural is the
best way to go. Plus, it's a whole hell of a lot cheaper. But your
choice is your own. OK. Let's start.
Too many beginners start right off the bat eating a diet a
bodybuilder two weeks out of a show would be proud of. You know what
I'm talking about: no fat, no carbohydrates and usually only moderate
protein intake. When you're training for strength or size (or both),
you should be taking in, minimum, at least a gram of protein per pound
of bodyweight every day. Hard, heavy lifters (those athletes getting
ready for a powerlifting competition, for example) should take in as
much as a gram and a half for every pound of bodyweight per day.
There are some people who say that the body only needs 50 grams of
protein per day and anything over that will only be eliminated. I can
tell you from personal experience that recovery time is cut down
dramatically when you follow a high protein diet. Remember, the body
uses protein to rebuild the muscles that get torn down every time you
lift heavy. Common sense should tell you that the harder you lift, the
more protein you'll need to fix the damage you cause. If you run your
big 4x4 truck hard, does it use more gas? Hell yeah!
Now young, inexperienced lifters should take special note here. Too
many of you are under the impression that the diet of the bodybuilder
and the training of a powerlifter go together. They do not. Let me
repeat: they do not. If you want to be cut and ripped, you have to
train and eat for that physique. If you want ultimate power, you have
to train and eat for that instead. Very few athletes can look like a
hardcore bodybuilder and bench like a world-class power lifter, as this
usually involves more then just training and diet.
So, if you want that big bench, make sure to eat a ton. I am not
giving you a license to eat all the sweets and chips you want. What I
am saying is to make sure you have an extra steak, eat 2 more potatoes,
or even throw in an extra meal because taking in at least 5000 calories
a day is not uncommon for a serious power athlete. I'm going to say it
again because it's that important: Heavy training and a big diet is the
way to gaining size and strength.
We all have a comfort zone. The key to diet is to see what yours
is. When first starting out, don't be afraid to eat when your body
craves extra food. The addition of heavy training will add many
calories to your diet. Trust me. Eventually, your body will find out
where it wants to stay. Only then can you start to plan out your route
In addition, drink at least a gallon of ice cold water a day. For
those in doubt about eating so many calories a day, drinking the water
will help keep extra weight down (not that the beginning power athlete
should worry about that right now). Why ice cold water? Because it will
help keep extra weight down since your body will burn calories to warm
the water up. Another reason that a power athlete should drink a lot of
water is because most of the supplements on the market are
Speaking of supplements, if you're just starting out, focus on the
nutrition you get from the foods you eat. If you're eating a wide
variety of foods, you won't need to start with supplements. Remember,
supplements are just another tool for helping you reach your goals.
They're not a magic pill. Supplements, in the absence of a solid diet,
hard training, and plenty of rest, will be a waste of your hard-earned
money. But when you're ready for that extra edge, start with a basic
protein powder, maybe some extra amino acids, and a good multivitamin.
My feeling is, since the training at the initial stage is not advanced,
why should the supplement plan? A beginner should not be worried about
supplements so much. Advanced lifters who have more knowledge and
experience, on the other hand, should formulate their own opinions
about what they want to take.
As an experienced lifter, I personally rely and Animal supplements.
During the year, I use Animal Pak and Animal Nitro religiously. Lately
though, I've been using some Animal M-Stak right before a meet and
getting great results. Whatever supplements you use though, if you want
to train naturally and you want to get strong, take supplements that
will increase your body's ability to train and recover.
Heavy training, a huge diet, a good supplement plan, and plenty of
rest is the only way to gain size and strength. So if you're training
hard but having trouble getting strong, start by looking at your diet.
After all, if you are unhappy with the way you look, you can always cut
weight. It is much easier to cut the weight off then put muscle on. And
unfortunately, eating big is the only way, naturally speaking, to put
on a lot of size. A solid supplement plan will get you to the next
level. On top of all that, get your sleep at night. All this will lay
the foundation for the next step: training. Next month, I'll
specifically talk about training for bigger gains in the bench. Until
then, work hard and eat big.