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Adding 5-10% to your bench press

Updated on February 9, 2010

Speed work for the bench press

A few things to clear up right away: I chose the bench press, out of the three traditional power lifts because many people have trouble with the bench. This is not an all-encompassing, year round training regimen. This is designed only for peak training.

----> That is NOT me in that picture! ------->

I will not cover nutritional guidelines at all here.

This programme will have your performing the bench press twice per week. It will not focus on nutritional guidelines whatsoever, nor will it focus on common sense issues like safety. This is an ADVANCED technique, not for beginners!

The first day will be whatever you normally do for bench (or chest for you bodybuilders), but with a slightly lesser volume. Trim the amount of sets down just a bit. This day must include the barbell bench press, as well as the incline bench press. Decline press is recommended, but optional.

Warm up as you normally would, but keep the repetitions low. A good example of what I'm talking about would be a warmup such as this (I'll use the weights from my workout as an example only).

135x10 reps x 2 sets

185x8 reps

225x6 reps

At this point I'm warm.

Now we commence the motor unit recruitment phase. Motor unit recruitment, in layman's terms, is a technique of using heavy weights, or maximal stress to activate more muscle fibers. We'll use the pause technique here, too. Powerlifters MUST pause the bar on their chest 'til it's motionless. Some sanctioning bodies actually give start and press commands.

My workout continued.

275x1 pause

300x1 pause

315x1 pause.

225x3- each rep paused x 8 sets

This brings me from a 330 max, to anywhere between 350 and 360- over a six week period.

This all sounds very simple, but when incorporated correctly, you can easily expect an additional 5% on your max. One of THE most important things to remember here-- is you're training your brain, not your muscles. That means explode with every single repetition, DO NOT continue to work if the bar starts slowing down- you must decrease the weight if this happens. Don't work to achieve a pump (hear that, bodybuilders?).

The formula for the speed programme breaks down roughly like this

1 set at 80% of your 1 rep max (1RM)

1 @ 85%, 1@ 90%, then 8 sets@ 65%

Sit back up between EACH set. You're practicing the press, as well as practicing setting up on the bench. This is absolutely critical to the success of the program! It's the first rep that we're concerned with!

The best way to finish off this day would be high repetition close grip bench press or dips. Again, DO NOT work to failure!


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    • joecseko profile image

      Joe Cseko jr 8 years ago from New York, USA, Earth

      Wow. Let me know if there's anything that I can do to help. You may just inspire another hub from me!

    • thaninja profile image

      thaninja 8 years ago from America

      Great Article. I am currently working on 100 pushups in a row in 100 days plan to build some endurance and get my joints ready for heavier lifting.