Saturday, June 15, 2019

Bench Pressing for Athletes - Matt Vincent




Matt Vincent is a top Professional Highland Games World Champion. He has spent the last 15 years strength training with a focus on functional strength for athletics. 

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The bench press is arguably the most popular lift. It is a common ground we all share - whether we like it or not. I guarantee that no matter what male you are speaking to, from a pro athlete to a high school kid just getting a feel for the training, "How much ya bench?" is going to translate and bring us all together. The bench is not only popular, but it is also one of the most important lifts that an athlete can master. No matter the sport, benching can aid you in your performance. 

The first thing I would recommend for would-be benchers is learning how to properly bench. I am really thankful for the years that I spent pursuing powerlifting and learning how to perform the bench properly. The bench, like the squat and deadlift, is a very technical lift when done correctly. Doing it correctly also reduces the risk of injury.

The basic steps are pulling your shoulders together and driving your traps intro the bench. Pull the bar apart to engage the lats. Drive the weight up while pushing through your heels to transfer your power into the bar. There are great videos online showing how to bench, and I recommend studying them. 

Benching for athletes is important for developing upper body strength. Athletes should make time spent in the gym as efficient as possible, since it is all general physical preparedness . . . what athletes do in the weight room is designed to transfer to the field. Benching helps develop strength in the upper back, chest, shoulders and triceps. When performed correctly, it is a full-body lift and teaches athletes how to use everything at the same time and in the order they want it to. Building strength in these areas is going to benefit any athlete. 

Accessories for the bench that help athletes the most are other big multi-joint movements. Dips, pull-ups, overhead pressing and Kroc rows are going to be the best bang for your buck. 

Programming these is also easy. Set training up in a 4-Day-Per-Week raining split or break it down to 2 days a week for later season or Older lifter training to make strength gains. Each training session is 2 to 3 main lifts and 2 accessory lifts. This is the best way for athletes to make gains and still have time to work on sport-specific training the other days.

One of the biggest things lifters can do to improve their bench is to GET STRONGER PRESSING OVERHEAD. No matter if you're push-pressing - my favorite for athletes because it forces leg drive, timing and keeping the core tight and strong - strict pressing, or performing jerks, this will translate into pressing power. Eventually, when you improve your bench form, it will mimic the push press in terms of staring tight and using leg drive to move the bar. 

All of the main lifts are full-body movements, and that is why athletes benefit from them. 

By coupling main lifts like bench pressing with overhead pressing, you are covering all your bases. The accessory movements will push the opposite of the lift. If you are benching, performing a horizontal push, then you will do rows and carry out a horizontal pull to compliment it. This is the same for overhead pressing and pull-ups. Dips are great for both lifts and strengthening the entire shoulder girdle all at once. Having this area bulletproof and strong is going to adapt to any sport. 

Base your percentages off of your training max (90% or actual max). This will accomplish a few things for athletes. Since the multiple sets of 5 and 3 are where you are going to make the actual strength gains, this will be a weight you can handle whether you are healthy or tired. This also reduces the chance of missed lifts and injury. Injuries occurring while training due to poor programming are completely avoidable and unforgivable. 

Use this formula, check the ego and do the work. The gains will come and continue to grow steadily. Push your rep maxes at the prescribed weight on the last set to test yourself. Deload on last week by doing 3 lights sets of 10 at 50% to keep active and promote recovery. 



 Three Days a Week


Day One 

Main Lift - Squat
Accessory - Good Morning/Kroc Row/Dip

Week 1 (main / accessory) 
5x5 @ 85% of training max / 3x10

Week 2
5x5 @ 90% / 3x10

Week 3
5x3 % 95% / 3x10 

Week 4
5x1@100% / 3x10

Week 5
3x10@50% / 3x10


Day 2

Main Lift - Snatch
Accessory - Snatch Pull/Clean/Clean Pull

Week 1
5x3@75% / 3x5@85%

Week 2
5x3@80% / 3x5@90%

Week 3
5x2@85% / 3x5@95%

Week 4
5x1@90% / 3x5@100%

Week 5
3x5@50% / 3x5@50%


Day 3

Main Lift - Deadlift
Accessory - Good Morning/Overhead Press/Pull-up/Dip

Week 1

Week 1 
5x5 @ 85% / 3x10

Week 2
5x5 @ 90% / 3x10

Week 3
5x3 % 95% / 3x10 

Week 4
5x1@100% / 3x10

Week 5
3x10@50% / 3x10



Two Days a Week 


Day 1 -

Main Lift  - Squat
Accessory - Bench/Kroc Row/Dip/Snatch or Snatch Pull*
I recommend some type of Olympic lift for all strength athletes. However, clean/snatch pulls are going to just as beneficial for making strength gains. The asterisks below indicate set/rep/weight choices for the snatch first, then the snatch pull. 

Week 1
5x5@85% / 3x10 
* 5x3@75% or 3x5@85%

Week 2
5x5@90% / 3x10
* 5x3@80% or 3x5@85%

Week 3
5X3@95% / 3x10
* 5x3@85% or 3x5@95%

Week 4
5x1@100% / 3x10
* 5x3@90% or 3x5@100%

Week 5
3x10@50% / 3x10


Day 2

Main Lift - Deadlift
Accessory - Good Morning/Overhead Press/Pull-up/Dip/Clean or Clean Pull*

Week 1
5x5@85% / 3x10 
* 5x3@75% or 3x5@85%

Week 2
5x5@90% / 3x10
* 5x3@80% or 3x5@85%

Week 3
5X3@95% / 3x10
* 5x3@85% or 3x5@95%

Week 4
5x1@100% / 3x10
* 5x3@90% or 3x5@100%

Week 5
3x10@50% / 3x10






 























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