|The Big Bench: The Basics & Beyond
At one point or another, most serious lifters will get the question,
"Man, you're pretty big. How much do you bench?" That question can
either be one of the most annoying questions in the world or an
opportunity for some to get a date, a personal training client or even
a workout partner. Most of the time, the person being asked will "pad"
their answer depending on who is askingÅc If it's a guy, how big he is.
If it's a girl, what color hair she has. Still, to lie to yourself is
far a worse act than seeking unearned praise. Why not just get
I have been lifting seriously now for eight years and have competed in
all sorts of sports including triathlons, football, bodybuilding,
strongman, and powerlifting. One thing that I have noticed through all
of these is that they are all related in a lot of ways. I trained the
same way with pretty much the same weight five weeks out of the
Southeastern USA Bodybuilding show as I did for the Olympia and King of
the Bench Competitions. I did the same amount of reps before football
practice as I did before lifting in The Cage at the Arnold. Here are a
few things that I have found helpful and a few rules that I base my
workouts on that have helped me to get to where I am and continue to
get stronger as each day passes.
I said before, I started off lifting heavy in bodybuilding so to this
day, this is how my workout split is arranged. I believe that to gain
strength in a muscle, you must completely annihilate each muscle group
worked. If you do this, you will not only need most of the week to
recover, but will in turn end up working smaller muscle groups more
than once through secondary training.
For example, if
you do chest on Monday, your triceps will get a pounding as well so
doing them a few days later gives them enough time to recuperate for
the actual triceps day. Also, I still train every muscle group because
I don't want to be that guy who has a big bench but little legs or no
back. It is important to push as much as you pull to keep a good and
even balance in your muscle groups which will help prevent injuries and
get rid of the guy who says, "I used to bench that much, but I blew out
my shoulder." Here is my training split with exercises I do every week
no matter what. I've also included my gym lifts.
• flat bench
• incline bench
• dumbbell flyes
• bent-over rows
• closegrip pulldowns
• behind-the-neck military presses
• seated dumbbell curls
• preacher curls
• close-grip bench,
• weighted dips
• front squats
• leg extensions
With this split, I get enough rest between complementary muscle groups
like chest and tris, back and bis, etc. I do add a few more exercises
to each workout but try to get the power movements in first so I'm 100%
on them. The little stuff at the end just gives me a little extra pump
and fills me up a little more. It also allows me to get the big, power
movements knocked out early in the week and Saturday, I have the whole
day to prepare myself for a big squat. I also know that I have the
entire next day to lie around and do nothing so I better step it up a
notch and make it worth my time.
My Gym Lifts
Raw bench: 700x1, 585x5, 495x13, 405x23, 225x64
Incline bench: 585x3, 615x1
Closegrip bench: 635x1
Military press (freeweight behind neck): 455x6, 495x3
Bent-over rows: 495x5, 585x2
Upright rows: 315x6
goals, both short-term and long-term, are a very important process to
me. This is not only true for bench but on every lift as well. If you
think about it, benching involves not only chest and triceps, but is
also very dependant on deltoid and trap strength as well as back
strength as a base. Flaring your lats creates a wider base for the
bench and in turn generates more power. I set goals for military press,
hangcleans, incline bench, close-grip bench, single-arm overhead
extensions, anything and everything that will improve my numbers. This
is where you will see the greatest improvements in your bench. Working
the auxiliary muscles to come together and work as a whole is the best
change you can make to increase your bench press.
are some rules I try to follow. Some are easier than others and some
not possible in some cases, but all should help in the effort to
increase your bench press.
#1 Listen to your body.
If, during a workout, you hurt yourself, strain something, pop
something, stop there. There is no bigger sign that your body telling
you, "Quit this shit now." I'd much rather cut a workout short than
keep going and make it worse so I miss the next three weeks of lifting.
#2 Eat more, sleep more.
Simply put, you can always do more of each. I am currently in a phase
of my diet where I eat steak twice a day, chicken twice a day, three
shakes a day, and carbs all day long. Once you think you're eating
enough, eat more, but eat clean. Fat doesn't lift any weight. Sleeping
is obviously when you actually grow so for someone to beat themselves
up in the gym and waste it by not sleeping is the biggest mistake they
could make. Rest up for the next workoutÅc You'd be surprised what a
good night's rest will do for a bench press.
#3 Workout with someone stronger.
Someone stronger than me always motivates me to go farther than I
would've otherwise. Whether it is because I don't want to take a plate
off of what he just did or because I don't want someone to catch me,
that extra push is sometimes the difference between a good bencher and
a great bencher. If this isn't possible, get a workout partner that
knows how to push you to your next level and do the same for him.
#4 Go hard and heavy.
Bigger benches come from benching heavy. Lower the reps and increase
the weight. After warming up, I pyramid by doing reps of five, three,
three, two, one, and then a drop set to failure. Every now and then
it's good for reps but I go heavy three out of four weeks.
#5 Don't waste time.
When I go to the gym, I go there for one and only one reason--to get
bigger and stronger. I'm not there to impress anyone, to talk to girls,
to see who's going out that night, none of that. Working out is an
investment you put into yourself and anything worth doing is worth
doing right. You get out of it what you put in, so give it your all.
Don't leave anything in the gym.
#6 Forced reps.
I love forced reps because it pushed me beyond my limit. If I bench
something I could get twice but do it five times with a spot, I've gone
way past my limits and only made myself stronger. Don't leave anythingÅc
This is the training I have done for the last eight years and have
managed to increase my numbers in all of my lifts. The exercises and
lifts will go hand in hand with each other. I hurt my shoulder and
stopped doing military presses for a few months and my bench went down
drastically. When I started back at them, my bench shot back up and
past what it previously was.
This method is what I did to get where I am, the rest is up to you.
Training like this is hardcore and definitely not for everyone. It is a
way of life and is one of the things that will define you in life.
Respect is not given, it is earned.
Bench Like An Animal, Part 1
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