Another is the fact that when anyone sees a huge person, the first thought isn't "Hey I wonder how much that guy can squat?" It's "how much can he bench?" Whether we'd like to admit it or not, we want to have a huge bench so we can tell our non-bb friends how much we can lift. Granted we don't want our other lifts to lag behind, but on a purely egotistical level, a huge bench can give you more confidence than most anything else.
Well, everyone knows what it feels like to max out. Or, more importantly, everyone knows what it feels like to put a little more weight on that bar than you can handle in an attempt to max out. Either you can't get the bar off your chest, or you get it halfway up and then it just stops, sitting there until someone helps you. Now if you're like me, you fall into the former category, where you need help getting the bar off your chest. After that it becomes easy to lock out. For many, the latter is true. Getting it off the chest is a cinch, but locking out is nearly impossible.
There are numerous ways to help solve this. People have used flyes, speed work, cable crossovers, and various tricep exercises. I as well have done these with limited success. And then recently at the gym, a friend suggested something: try the pause bench.
Now again, not everyone knows how this works, it's a good bet a lot of you do, but there are some out there that don't, so here's a quick rundown. Get into a power rack, and place the braces at your sticking point.
This would be either right at chest level or at about the halfway point, depending. From here you lift the bar up as quickly as you can and put it back down. If you have the braces at chest level, don't lock out; just get that thing up as quickly as you can. Then set the bar back down, take a breath, and do it again. Simple enough, right?
What you will notice is that you won't be doing as much weight as you would like. This is because rather than having your muscles primed from the descent, they're coming from total relaxation, so be sure to use a good bit less weight than you would use for normal benching. Trust me, it will still be a struggle. What this is doing is working your problem point directly, getting your muscles to work through that sticking point and (hopefully) eliminating it entirely. Through experience, I've discovered it is a bit rougher on the shoulders, so be sure to do rotator cuff exercises on a regular basis to avoid injury.
My bench routine* generally goes something like this:
Flat bench - 5x4 to 6
Incline DB press - 4x6 to 8
Pause bench - 4x4
* This is just the benching aspect, as flyes, pushdowns, dips and the like are added and modified on a weekly basis.
The Pause bench always goes last, because I have found it to be the most strenuous of the three, always tearing me up quite well.
Wrapping up, give the pause bench a try for two weeks and see how your bench will begin to soar. I know it's helped me a great deal. Comments are always welcome.
Until next time,