Read Bench Like An Animal: Part 2
Read Bench Like An Animal: Part 4
Read Bench Like An Animal: Part 5
We have spent enough time talking about turning the average lifter into an Animal, the kind who has strength training on the brain 24/7. By this time, you should be able to taste it, should have fire in the belly every time someone mentions moving the steel.
The "Bench Like an Animal" series is not for someone to "attempt". These articles are meant for those who always had a hunger for pushing themselves to the fuckin' extreme, but weren't quite sure how.
I want the lifters who always stop to look when someone in the gym is attempting massive weight and want that for themselves. I want the lifters who fire up "Disturbed" on the sound system and actually feel the power come over them before they begin a set. I want the lifters who spend the week walking around, going nuts, thinking about getting in the gym that night after work just to push themselves to the edge. I want those of you who have bench on the brain.
These are the hardcore freaks that will accomplish what they set out to do. It isn't hard to join the elite; it takes doing what you got to do and then going beyond. With the "Bench Like an Animal" series I would like to point out some of the different aspects that will help you enter the Animal brotherhood.
This includes what to expect, different phases as time goes on, techniques, and, of course, some different routines. I didn't have someone standing with me, helping me get to 600. But I do want to give those who want it bad a leg up. I want someone with the hunger to be able to concentrate more on training and not worry about having the right info.
Like I said, at Animalpak.com, it's all about the brotherhood. So if you follow the series, and you stick to it, you will have a chance to become great.
When you start pushing the limits, you always want to have a spotter-three if you're in the 500-600 pound range. You can't accomplish a monster bench without a spotter or two. You can't go to the gym, do your routine, and push the limits without spotters.
There will be a lot of failure and you don't want to get caught under your max without someone to get it off. All serious lifters have had training partners who've been with them a while and who they felt comfortable with. But, you have to pay attention; there are a lot of people masquerading as good partners.
Training starts off with calls every five minutes during the day in order to coordinate the training time. There's a lot of compromise and adjustments that will need to be made by both parties. Then after a while it starts to happen. The excuses start coming. A good partnership is very hard to find and one that should not be taking lightly. At no time does it involve excuses.
The Bench Killer Excuse
The main "bench killer" is the fuckin' excuse. The excuse has taken down more good lifters than any disease known to man. The main problem with this "disease" is that it comes in many forms. Here's a couple we've all heard:
- My girlfriend is bitchin' because I spend too much time in the gym (huge killer);
- I had a hard day at work and I am wrecked so I'll make it up tomorrow (never happens);
- I have been training really hard and I need a break (usually ain't true);
- Me & the boys are going out tonight and I gotta' get ready (refer to #1).
Excuse #4 usually creeps up after guys start getting results. The reason I bring these excuses up is because if you want your training to rise to a level of Animal, then you need a partner who shares the same hunger you have. And let's face it folks. There aren't that many of us around. We're a rare breed. An endangered species. When you find a good partner, remember, your responsibilities double. You need to commit 100% to yourself and 100% to your partner. By having a good partner, you'll be able to push your training to a new level.
After a while, you and your partner will become accustomed to each other. It is important to have someone around who knows your lift-off style, isn't afraid to spot on a heavy press, and knows when to grab the bar or even what to do if the bars stops or goes up slow. In a perfect world, the spotter becomes invisible; he becomes part of the lift.
To get to the next level, you need to get all the little details right, like having the right spotter. One wrong move in the lift-off could cause the lift to go bad. When it comes to your max, it ain't going to be easy and you don't want things you could have controlled fuckin' the lift up even before you get started. While we're talking about spotters, let me address one area that is a real gym ball-buster. In my opinion, you are not a pussy if you accept a lift off.
The Lift Off
The lift off saves energy when it counts: the lift. Plus, imagine lifting off 600-pounds and then having to press it… It ain't easy. Now I hear guys who say that only pussies get lift-offs. Let me set the record straight, it ain't so.
It is real fuckin' art to have someone help you move a massive amount of weight, stop it over your sweet spot, and not dump most of it back on you. It is like the weight doesn't exist until it is over you and your arms are locked out. When it comes to a big bench, a spotter can mean the difference between getting it and not.
If you want to be the best, train like the best. Train like contest, and always have contest form. In contest, you are allowed to have you own lift-off guy and the lift-off is not part of the lift that is considered by the judge. The only rule that has to be followed is this: the lift-off guy must get out of the way so that the head judge can see the lift.
If at any time you doubt me, train with someone and then go to contest without him. You have to find someone to help get you ready. For example: You will need help getting the bench shirt on, and to help lift you off (hopefully they have lifted off the weight you do before); and to hand you the wrist wraps, chalk, salts, or whatever else you use to get ready for the lift.
There might be plenty of people to lift off for 300-400 pounds, but look for someone to lift off for 500+. Many, many become nervous. That is a chance you don't want to take. Take your boy away and see all of a sudden what a pain in the ass it is to get ready to go to the platform.
There are many great partners everywhere and I would like to take the time to give them all their props. I have had the absolute best for the last few years. This is one of the main reasons I am where I am today. When you have someone to try different equipment, travel, and compete with that has the same fire as you it can only push you to animal level. But, beware of impersonators.
It is tough to be making the gains and working your best then have the rug pulled from under you with excuses. It starts small and works its way into you just going off and training on your own until someone else comes in. That is a major problem with me. When I want to achieve and set a goal, I hate it when someone pisses on my feet and tells me it's raining.
In the future I am going to cover the many aspects associated with benching massive numbers. If there is any particular topic that you want to hear about, e-mail me at www.animalpak.com and I will see what I can do to cover it. Just to let you know, it is OK to be obsessed with putting up them big bench numbers as long as you take care of yours. This means do what you got to do in a day, then find time for your workout. Because the word "obsessed" is just a word the lazy use to describe the dedicated Animal.
Paul S. Vargo, Nationally-Ranked Bench Presser