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What's The Best Workout To Increase Your Bench?

What's the best workout to increase your bench? It may not be the most demanding or interesting lift, but the bench is the key to building a massive chest. Here are some great workouts, who should avoid it, and more. Read on.

By: Workout Of The Week


TOPIC: What's The Best Workout To Increase Your Bench?

The Question:

"What's your bench?" is possibly the most common question a bodybuilder or athlete is asked.

What's the best workout to increase your bench?

Who should avoid this type of workout?

Why do you think bench press is the most common exercise associated with strength, rather than squats, deadlifts, etc?

Show off your knowledge to the world!

The Winners:

    Prizes:
      1st place - 75 in store credit.
      2nd place - 50 in store credit.

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1st Place - soundcheck129
View This Author's BodySpace Here.

"What's your bench?", is possibly the most common question a bodybuilder or athlete is asked.

Though it makes up only one of the "Big Three," the bench press gets more attention than both the deadlift and the squat combined, especially among non-bodybuilders.

Of All The 'Big Three' It Gets The Most Attention.
+ Click To Enlarge.
Of All The 'Big Three' It
Gets The Most Attention.

It may not be the most demanding or interesting lift, but the bench is the key to building a massive chest. In addition, an impressive bench press is a sure-fire way to turn heads and gain respect among hardcore lifters and couch potatoes alike.


What's The Best Workout To Increase Your Bench?

No matter how experienced or strong a lifter is, we all experience plateaus. But what separates the best from the rest is the ability to blast through these stopping points and continue to increase strength.

The best way to increase your bench is to apply plateau-busting techniques into your routine, such as altering your routine to offer some variation. This will shock your muscles and challenge them to work harder. So, if your major chest exercise is the flat bench, try a decline or incline bench, or dumbbell presses instead.

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Another important point to remember is that the bench press isn't all about chest - the triceps and deltoids also play a role in driving the weight upward. Performing lifts that feature the triceps and deltoids as prime movers, rather than stabilizers will help boost your strength as well.


The Workout

    In addition to implementing a variety of exercises, this workout features an array of different techniques designed to stimulate both your fast- and slow-twitch muscle fibers to stimulate maximum growth in strength.

TERMS YOU'LL NEED TO KNOW
Rest-Pause - Do a set to failure. Rest for 5 to 10 seconds then do a few more reps with the same weight. Do this once or a few times depending on your energy levels and how far you wish to push. With this technique you can take a weight you can only do for a certain number of reps and increase that amount.
Drop Sets - Also known as strip sets, drop sets involve the immediate reduction of weight between sets with no rest. This will thoroughly burn out a muscle.
Failure - That point in an exercise at which you have so fully fatigued your working muscles that they can no longer complete an additional repetition of a movement with strict biomechanics. You should always take your post-warm-up sets at least to the point of momentary muscular failure, and frequently past that point.

    Two warm-up sets should precede each lift.

    • Weighted Dips: 3 Drop Sets Of 6-10 Reps Reduce Weight 10-20% Each Time.
    • Military Press: 3 Sets Of 6 Reps
    • Pre-Exhaustion:

    • Triceps Pushdown: 3 Sets Of 6 Reps
      Incline Press: 3 Sets Of 6-8 Reps

      Pre-Exhaustion allows you to recruit more muscles to assist the prime movers on the latter set than you normally would, this is a great technique to build strength.

    • Decline Press: 3 Sets Of 5-7
    • Dumbbell Press: 3 Sets Of 6-8 Reps, RestPause


    • This is an excellent method to ensure you recruit both the fast and slow-twitch muscle fibers and squeeze every bit of strength out of your muscles.

    • Dumbbell Flyes: 3 Sets To Failure

    • Aim for 6 reps, but perform until exhaustion.

    When finished, perform 25 push-ups, and then stretch to cool-down. A great method I like to use is fascia stretching. This stretches out the fibers that surround your muscles. To do this, grab two dumbbells and perform one dumbbell fly, holding the bottom portion of the exercise for 20-30 seconds. Trust me - you'll feel this one.


Click To Enlarge.
Dumbbell Flyes.
Video : Windows Media - Video iPod

    Obviously, this is a very intense workout, and I wouldn't recommend it more than twice a week - even once should be enough. You'll also notice that the workout does NOT include a flat bench. This is not an oversight.

    If you want to break through a plateau, you have to give your body something different to work with. There are plenty of compound exercises included in this routine, and they will stimulate the muscles needed to increase your bench strength. I also believe that giving yourself a rest on the lift you are trying to improve will be beneficial, making sure you are fresh and fired up when you are ready to bust through your plateau.

BODYBUILDING.COM FORUM: BENCH PRESS PLATEAU
Bench Press Tips -- I've Hit A Plateau!
[ Click To Join The Thread. ]
Bench Press Tips -- I've Hit A Plateau!
I seem to be stuck at my current bench press weight, which is 225 for 7. I have tried everything to go higher, high reps, low reps, with little result. I was hoping someone here could help.
Started By:
odelayih


Other Considerations

    Another reason for stalled progress is inadequate nutrition. Without properly fueling your body, you won't be able to build strength. Make sure you are getting enough protein, carbohydrates and fats, and that you are fueling yourself before and exercise. Simply adding a few hundred calories to your diet can make a huge difference.

    Rest and sleep is also very important - aim for eight hours per night if you can. Also, do not overtrain - training your chest every day of the week will not benefit you, and will probably hold back your progress. If you are worried that too much training is the issue, consider taking a few days or a week off. You could also have a deload week, in which you refrain from any extreme lifting, such as performing sets to exhaustion.

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Who Should Avoid This Type Of Workout?

Anyone who is just beginning should avoid this workout. It is very intense and features a lot of advanced techniques such as drop-sets, rest-pauses and pre-exhaustion. The average beginner wouldn't even be able to define these terms, much less perform the exercises in question. Additionally, beginners won't need to go to such extreme lengths to see improvement.

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Also, those coming off of injury should avoid this workout, as the intensity may aggravate the muscles that are being rehabilitated and interfere with recovery. Older individuals will probably also want to avoid this workout due to the high level of stress.


Why Is The Bench Press More Commonly Associated With Strength?

The bench press is much more popular than deadlifts and squats because the muscles that it develops are more visible. Sure, deadlifts are great for your back and hamstrings, but no one is ever going to ask you to flex those muscles or hike up your shorts so they can get a better look.

Simply put, the bench press is "sexier" - an impressive chest is associated with tough guys and fashion models, thanks to media portrayals and movies. While a thick chest wouldn't be enough to wow the judges at the Olympia, the general public would be much more impressed a well-developed upper body than monster quads and calves.

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Another reason that the bench press is more associated with strength is because it is much more commonly performed. When first starting out, a lot of lifters will focus on upper body and abs, completely neglecting their lower bodies. This is foolish, as deadlifts and squats are great for improving overall functional strength, but again, a great set of wheels doesn't command the same respect as a nice bicep on the beach.

From my experience, I've seen a lot more people benching at the gym than squatting... it seems some people aren't even really sure what the racks are for.

RELATED POLL
Which Of The Big Three Do You Perform The Most?

The Bench Press!
The Deadlift!
The Squat!

And last but not least - deadlifts and squats are pretty hard, so some people avoid them for this reason. While bench pressing isn't exactly easy, it is much less taxing than deadlifts, and if most people have the option to do an easier lift that will have more aesthetically pleasing results, they'll take it.


2nd Place - TwinIam
View This Author's BodySpace Here.

Ahhh... The bench press. Frequently referred to as the king of the upper-body exercises, it is probably the most-performed exercise in the gym. Bodybuilders, powerlifters, and average Joes all recognize the power of the bench press, and for good reason.


Click To Enlarge.
Barbell Bench Press.
Video : Windows Media - Real Player

No other exercise works your upper body so thoroughly and completely. Naturally, it is a point of ego among many guys to bench press the most. Below I have outlined a plan that I hope will augment your strength increases so you can 'wow' your friends!


What's The Best Workout To Increase Your Bench?


Reps & Sets

    Rep range should be kept low for building strength - 1-5 reps seems to be the optimal range. Failure should be achieved within this rep range. Naturally, with such a low amount of muscle contractions, you'll have to up the number of sets to adequately stimulate strength-building. Shoot for at least 5 sets, pyramiding the weight upwards with each progressive set.

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Rest Time

    To ensure full recuperation and max power, breaks between sets should be around 3-5 minutes. Outside of the gym, you should rest for a week between each workout for a given body part. Additionally, try to space out the days that you train your chest and the days you train your triceps & shoulders (the other major muscles worked by the bench press).

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Equipment

    Some of the greatest strength-building tools are resistance bands, chains, and barbells. Chains and bands provide "linear variable resistance," which means that the weight you're lifting increases as you complete the range of motion. This phenomenon has been proven to be great for improving strength. Barbells allow you to lift more weight (because of the reduced need for stabilizer muscles), and so they are another valuable asset.

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Exercise Selection

    In addition to the bench press, you need to specifically target your upper and lower chests for optimal strength. Flyes are good for hypertrophy, but not so much for strength, so stick with presses (dumbbell and barbell, incline and decline).

    Also, to optimize strength gains, strength training for triceps and anterior deltoids (synergists of the bench press movement) should be incorporated, as well. Pressing movements are great for these muscle groups: shoulder presses for delts (Arnold presses if you really want to hit the front delts) and weighted dips for triceps.


Click To Enlarge.
Weighted Bench Dip.
Video : Windows Media - MPEG - Video iPod


Helpful Techniques

    Negative repetitions (resisting a weight higher than your 1 RM on the way down with a partner helping you push it up) are awesome for strength building since you can resist more weight than you can push. Also implement rest-pauses; a technique that allows you to lift a weight for more repetitions because of a short (10-20 second) rest period at the end of a set before attempting to crank out one or two more reps.

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Negative Reps Video Guide!

This technique focuses on the negative portion of muscle contraction (the eccentric or lowering phase).

Click The Play Button To Start The Video.
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[ Intensity Building Techniques ]

    One technique that I used when working on my bench was working through only the top half of the movement (the strongest part of the press). I did it on a power rack, making sure to pause with the barbell resting on the rack at the bottom, so as not to use momentum. It helped - trust me.


Sample Workouts

    Remember to warm-up before each of these workouts! Heavy weights are tough on your joints - an injury is a likely possibility. Hop on a cardio machine for 5-10 minutes before your workout, and complete 2-4 warm-up sets for your first exercise.

TERMS YOU'LL NEED TO KNOW
Negative Reps - One or two partners help you lift a weight up to 10-50% heavier than you would normally lift to finish point of movement. Then you slowly lower weight on your own.
Rest-Pause - Do a set to failure. Rest for 5 to 10 seconds then do a few more reps with the same weight. Do this once or a few times depending on your energy levels and how far you wish to push. With this technique you can take a weight you can only do for a certain number of reps and increase that amount.

    Chest Workout

    Triceps Workout

    Shoulder Workout


Who Should Avoid This Type Of Workout?

People who would be better off steering clear of extremely heavy training:

  • Beginners: New muscles aren't ready to handle such a huge weight safely. Work with the movements for a few years to ensure the chance of injury is nil.
  • People prone to joint pain/bone conditions: As I said before, heavy weights are tough on your joints. You aren't doing yourself any favors if your joints aren't ready for this punishment (even if your muscles are).

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Why Is The Bench Press More Commonly Associated With Strength?

The reason that the bench press is the most frequently used, talked about, and widely known is because of its incredible potential for building both muscle and strength. Comparable lifts such as the squat and deadlift are ignored in favor of the bench press because the latter is much more appealing to the average Joe compared to the difficulty of the former two exercises. Deadlifts and squats are painful. Additionally, the risk of injury is less with the bench because not as many muscles are involved as synergists.


What's The Best Workout To Increase Your Bench?

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