Up Your Chest
It always comes up. It never fails. Anytime someone starts talking to me about weightlifting the same question will come up "So, how much can you bench?" My answer is always the same "I don't have a clue." At one time in my life I used to be a huge "ego presser". That's what I call people so obsessed with having a big bench. Shawn Ray has said it best "If you have a 500lb bench, when you take your shirt off you better have the pecs." When I try to explain myself on why I am not interested in being strong I usually get the look of confusion.
See bodybuilding and strength training are two different things. They are two totally different styles of training. Now you do get strong when bodybuilding but it's more of an endurance type strength rather than a one rep max strength. But I do know ways to get that bench press weight up and up in a hurry. So if you are interested in building a big bench press then this is the article for you. I have used this myself and have trained others who have used it and it does work.
The bench press is a very compound movement, meaning it incorporates many different muscle groups to perform the lift. Behind squats and deadlifts nothing works more muscle groups at one time to perform one single lift. So how do you build yourself a big bench? Well unlike the popular belief that goes around most gyms across America it's not by working chest three days a week. The best and fastest way to increase your ego, errr, I mean bench is to strengthen the surrounding muscles that come into play while benching: chest (of course), triceps and shoulders. We will go over one exercise that I have used, and still use today but not just for building my bench, for adding the weight to the bench press. So, let's build those egos, err, benches.
Last summer I helped a friend of mine's son to get ready for the football season. His coach said he needed to gain 20lbs and increase his bench in order for him to start. Now the kid I trained put in all the work I asked him. He followed my program and his bench went from 185lbs to 275lbs in about 10 weeks. That's a pretty big increase in that amount of time. He increased his dips so well that he was adding about 50lbs to his body and still pumping out around 13-14 reps. His bodyweight also increased from 190lbs to 215lbs, now did I mention this kid was only 15 years old, he is a freak, and my money is on this kid to play linebacker in the NFL, but that's another story for another day.
For chest I like to do dips. Just good, slow, controlled dips. Now the key is to be able to add weight to yourself so that you will get stronger. So if you can do 15 reps with just your body weight then you need to strap on another 10lbs. When you get to 15 reps with the added 10lbs then increase another 10lbs, so on and so forth. After a while of doing this I got to where I was strapping over 100lbs and doing 10 reps. This is a great strength builder and shows overall upper body strength. People in the gym will look at you in awe because most can't do much more than 2 or 3 dips.
For shoulders I do military presses. Do them in front not behind the neck. This will get that bench up quickly. I like to do 4-6 reps with these. The whole purpose of doing them is to go heavy and to get stronger. Make sure form is good; the last thing you want to do is injure yourself. Also by training them heavy you will see some good deltoid growth.
Close-grip bench. This movement will nail the triceps in the same type of motion that the regular bench does allowing them to get used to the similar movement. This is a must exercise in increasing the bench. It will allow you to handle the bench press weight more smoothly and will help you push through that little sticking point we all have about ¾ the way up.
If you get stronger on these three exercises you will get that big bench. But to train for strength you may need to tweak your current workout schedule. When training for strength you will do a heavier volume of weight with more intensity. You will lower the exercises, lower the reps, and increase the weight. This is a 6-week program and can yield some great results.
What you do for other body parts is up to you but in order to maximize you strength gains you need to follow the chest, triceps and shoulder workout below.
6 Week Program
- Bench Press: 7 sets of 10,6,4,2,2,1,4 reps
- Dips: 4 sets (when you get to 15 reps, up the weight by 10lbs)
- Butterfly: 3 sets of 10 reps
Here is the training split that I think would benefit you the most while trying to up your bench:
Notice that there is a day off in between each day that will require pushing movements. On the secondary exercises, like Upright Rows, for each body part I think that you should use cables or machines. You don't want to risk and injury. I have had good results from this routine in the past and if I ever decide to "ego press" again this will be the system I use.
The whole point of this article is to clue people in that there is more than one muscle group worked in the bench press. If you want a big bench you must focus on the others muscles that are incorporated, I can't stress this enough. I see this everyday at the gym.
Do this program for at least 6 weeks and if you are not completely satisfied I will gladly accept any unused portion of this product for a full refund. Don't you just get tired of hearing that at the end of every thing? Seriously though, this program does work and you can make it work for you, damn this sounds like an infomercial.
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