Saturday, October 16, 2010

Bench Press - Part the Lastest

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4.4 – A “Total” Bench Press Training Program

Let’s try to put everything together into a generalized bench press training program that can (hopefully!) be used by everyone, at least as a base. We’ll need to incorporate the following factors:
(1) Selection of the exercises that should be used for training the key bench press muscles;
(2) The appropriate use of the periodization concepts in training these muscles;
(3) The addition of specialized sticking point development exercises; and
(4) Technique work with single repetitions in the competitive style bench press (and using technique drills such as those discussed in Section 4.3).

First, I have listed below a “partial” list of the exercises I would recommend for the three “key” bench press muscles (pectoralis major, triceps, and deltoid). I leave the other auxiliary exercises (as in Section 3.5) to the reader’s discretion.

My selection of exercises in each category gives exercise (1) the highest priority, and so one down (e.g., I prefer close grip bench presses over the other forms of triceps exercises, etc.).


1.) Wide Grip Bench Press (variations below):

(a) Touch high on chest, lock out fully
(b) Touch high on chest, push up two-thirds only (non-lockout)
(c) Touch mid-chest, lock out fully
(d) Touch mid-chest, push up two-thirds only (non-lockout)
(e) Touch low on chest, lock out fully
(f) Touch low on chest, push up two-thirds only (non-lockout)

2.) Wide Grip Dumbbell Bench Press (same variations as above)

3.) Low Incline Wide Grip Bench Press (same variations as above) – keep incline less than 30 degrees or so above horizontal.


1.) Close Grip Bench Press (grip with less than shoulder width):

(a) Touch high on chest, lock out fully
(b) Touch mid-chest, lock out fully
(c) Touch low on chest, lock out fully
(d) Lower only one-half way down

2.) Dips (with weight, shoulder width grip, keep body straight and elbows back)

3.) Triceps Pushdowns (grip less than shoulder width, keep elbows into sides, avoid forward lean)


1.) Dumbbell Presses (standing, palms facing head, shoulder height to overhead range)

2.) Behind Neck Presses (wide grip, lower bar only to about ear-level and push up, standing)

3.) Front Lateral Raises (keep arm in plane midway between front and side arm positions)

The specialized sticking point development exercises I would recommend for building this critical region are similarly:


1.) Power Rack Partial Movements (at sticking point region, using competitive style bench press, low reps)

2.) Power Rack Isometric Contraction (at sticking point region, using competitive style bench press, 3-5 seconds duration)

3.) “Slow” Reps (on purpose!) Through Sticking Point Region (reduce acceleration effects, man need less weight, use competitive style bench press)

Now, with the exercises in Categories A, B, C and D in mind, the overall bench press training plan is presented in Tables 10-13. Please not in particular Table 10, which outlines the overall t raining plan. As you will see in this table:

(1) Periodization concepts are used to train the key bench press muscles;
(2) Sticking point training is reserved for the last four weeks of the cycle; and
(3) Technique training increases as the cycle progresses, with singles gradually increasing in weight and more time spent on technique drills, etc. as the meet approaches.

This general plan in Table 10 is one that can more easily be understood by reviewing Tables 11-13. These tables give a more detailed view of how a typical cycle would be structured by providing sample workouts for Week 1 (Table 11), Week 4 (Table 12), and Week 7 (Table 13).

The overall plan in Table 10 provides a base program design that incorporates the major concepts discussed earlier in the book. This sample program can be used for quite some time if:

(1) The exercises (in ALL categories) are changed at the end of each cycle;
(2) The weights used are recalculated based on the new 1 RM, 3 RM, 5 RM, and 10 RM poundages (note: 1 RM means the maximum weight you can lift for your one repetition competitive bench press, but 3-10 reps maxes relate to the maximum weight you can do for MULTIPLE SETS (i.e., 3-5) for that number of repetitions); and
(3) At least once a year (as in “off” season) one or more cycles are performed where emphasis is given only to doing “key” muscle training (i.e., no technique singles or sticking point exercises) and repetitions are kept between 5 and 10. This can be achieved, for example, by first using weeks 1-=6 in Table 10 (as outlined for “key” muscle training only), then using 1 week of active rest (as in Week 9 of Table 10), and starting over with new exercises. This provides more volume, less intensity type “base” work earlier in the season that prepares one for the later (more intense) cycles in the year.

It is recommended that beginners start with the cycle as shown in Table 10, and go through four cycles (36 weeks) before doing two shorter “base” cycles of seven weeks each as outlined above. More advanced lifters can follow the same format, but need to incorporate even more variation into this training plan. This can be achieved by using shorter cycles, varying the exercises even more (perhaps even more within each week), etc. Advanced lifters need more of such variation in order to keep progressing, and it can be incorporated easily. This workout plan is designed to peak you for a competition (or new maximum day) on a Monday. Since this is normally not the case (most meets being on Friday to Sunday), all you have to do during meet week is follow these suggestions:

(1) On Monday of “meet” week 8 follow the same type of “medium” workout you did the last Wednesday (during week 7, see Table 13);
(2) On Wednesday of “meet” week 8 follow the same type of “light” workout you did the previous Friday (during week 7, see Table 13); and
(3) Warm up at the meet on Friday to Sunday just as you have done routinely for your competition singles during the cycle, but in competition use a “comfortably easy” opening attempt, go for your reasonably expectable maximum on your second attempt, and then a “wishful” third attempt. You want to “sneak up” on your attempts and avoid excessively large (and usually foolhardy) poundage jumps. This is the day you’ve been looking forward to, so be smart, watch your technique, take reasonable poundage increments and - ENJOY YOURSELF! You’ve earned that new max.

Final Word

The purpose of this book was to try and bring science and practical experience together in order to provide a better understanding of the bench press. The success of this effort, however, can only be measured by the practical training results experienced by the readers of this book, and by the results of future research on the bench press stimulated by the ideas herein. Hopefully, this book will serve as a worthy starting point for progress in both areas.

I have chosen to use this book as my means of sharing what I know with you. Hopefully, you can take this information and perhaps not only personally benefit, but possibly try to help someone else. It is always unfortunate when people spend great efforts and never achieve the results they want. Make it standard behavior to be of service to those who may not have your experience.

It all comes back.

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