4 Bench Press Tips For Strong Lifters
Here’s how we break down bench press lifters as fairly and efficiently as possible: above 300 pound pressers and below.
Above = Strong
Below = Getting Strong
Generally no one at our gym benches under 100 pounds….or they don’t bench. In other words, we have plenty of beginners that are just starting to train that can’t bench the bar. That simply means we don’t bench with them. They get the body weight, med ball, bear crawling, sled pressing, etc until they set up their strength base….but beginners will be part II of this article series.
There are other ways to break them up, for example 2x body weight, age, etc. I personally don’t like the body weight scale for athletes, but that’s a talk for another day. However, anyway you slice it, make sure you differentiate between new strength and advanced strength.
Above = Strong Tips
1. Bench Fewer Reps. Lifters that have high level of strength and efficiency at the bench press actually get to bench LESS often than their counterparts, the under 300 group.
Typically they press around 10 medium to heavy reps a week. For example, 6 x 2 (12 reps) or 5 x 2 (10 reps) or 4 x 2 (8 reps). This is with medium weight warm up sets and if we go as low as 4 it is usually contrasted with an explosive exercise.
2. Bench Faster. As you are working up your sets, let’s say 6 x 2, the first, second, third sets will be lighter weight. Keep the form super tight and concentrate on crushing the bar with your hands and driving it up. Train your body to stay tight and move fast and the heavier sets will become more natural.
3. Know Your Numbers. Here’s where I differ from a lot of trainers. Many will say “remember what you did last week and try to beat it.” And, that’s actually pretty good advice – I even use it with our beginner to intermediate crowd. Once you get into the “strong” crowd you better start working your percentages to both increase strength and not beat up your body. ”Eh, throw a little more on” isn’t a good choice anymore. We cycle reps and weeks, for example 5 x 3 at 45, 55, 65, 75, 80% of your tested 1 RM for the cycle.
4. Rest Time Matters. I don’t know why people that fit into the strong category thinks they can sit around for 5+ minutes between sets. Your body is shutting down while you are just sitting on your ass. Recommended is 1-2 minutes for the light sets and 2-3 minutes for the heavier sets. THAT’S IT!
If you are training powerlifting, this might change a little, but we are working with athletes. There is a long list of important training to get to, and time wasted is just that….wasted.
High School 405 lb Bench Press
This post is motivated by testing this week. We welcomed 3 more athletes to the above 300 crowd (all high school) and even 1 to the elite above 400 lb group!
It’s a huge tip of the hat to his hard work from being with us in the garage days until now. I can’t find (although I might have missed it) ANY other video of a high school benching 405 with anything resembling proper form.
Oh, and before the haters come crawling out of their mom’s basement to impart their training knowledge on us, we do other lifts too! Actually we bench very little (as covered above).
He will be a senior this year and captain of the defending NYS state champs. It’s ON in under a month!
- Joe Hashey, CSCS –
PS. Please do me a favor and “LIKE” this video on YouTube. When he benched 275 as a freshman the keyboard warriors came out of the woodwork. He deserves pride in his accomplishments. Thank you!