The Contrast

The Contrast
Lift Big, Sing Big, Look Great Doing It.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Tools to Help Your Bench

I'll be the first to say that my Bench Press sucks. It sucks a lot. In fact, My Bench press is the only thing that isn't excelling on this lean bulk/new programming. I attribute this to my natural genetic structure and my mediocre technique.

The Bench press is the big "who's the man in the gym" lift. I've always wanted a big bench, but that dream has yet to come to fruition. However, I am making plans to change this. After I've run the course of my current program, I'm going to start introducing different techniques and tools into my training.

If you're brand spanking new to lifting, there is no need to apply any of these things. Just get in the gym and lift, learn how to lift more efficiently with better technique, give it several months of consistent training and more than likely you will have gained size and strength in your chest and arms and then you can decide if you'd like to apply the following to get stronger at the movement. BUT, if you're like me and done the basics and acquired a bench that's at least your body weight x 1.3 and find it difficult to progress, give these following things a try.

Additional Tricep and Chest Hypertrophy

This will be the first thing that I incorporate. My triceps have always been a huge week point for me, my biceps are immensely larger and stronger in comparison. My chest isn't exactly a weak point, but my ability to tie in my chest and muscles via the mind muscle connection to my pressing movements is definitely a limiting factor. I recently maxed out the Pec Deck at my gym and turned to dumbbell flys with a real large stretch at the bottom position. The result said dumbbell flys is a chest so sore that it woke me up last night. Yeowzahs.

Basically, a larger muscle will more than likely be a stronger one, or at the very least be capable of more strength. Additional volume and hypertrophy after you've done your big basic movements will allow you to grow stronger and get some bigger pretty boy body parts (chest, arms, shoulders, even some abs.) It's a win win.

Pause Work

The next thing that I will begin to incorporate or cycle in my training is paused pressing work. Pausing takes out the momentum or the rebound you might get if you do touch and go pressing and bounce the bar off of your chest.

Pause Bench

If you compete in power-lifting, you're required to pause the weight on your chest before lifting it. This also turns out to be great way to get stronger and requires you to have more mind/muscle connection and create a tighter position at the bottom of the bench, which is where a lot of people get trapped (myself included.)

Spoto Press

Created by the all time world record holder, Eric Spoto, this is a variation on the pause bench where the pause occurs an inch or so above your chest where most people fail during the lift. Doing this variation allows this part of the movement to get more time under tension and potentially more strength as a result.

Overload the Muscles and The Movement

A lot of these techniques are frequently used in what is called The Conjugate Method. Basically you wail on your weak points using accessories and speed work to improve your total on the platform. These are also ways to make your training a little more fun and allow you to get stronger in numerous ways. I plan on using these as I acquire the tools piece by piece and an idea of how to set up some of the structures in my gym with minimal inconvenience.

Bench Blocks

Bench blocks or board presses allow you to limit the range of motion and can allow you to potentially handle more weight or do the same weight for more reps. This will help your Central Nervous System Adapt to heavier weight and allow for more adaptation.

Pin Presses and Floor Presses

Pin Presses target specific sticking points and potentially allow you to push heavier weight through those area. Floor Presses work very similarly, but they remove your legs out of the equation put all of the work on just your chest and triceps with a limited motion and no leg drive.


Chains have the a double benefit of looking cool and being very helpful. This kind of training is called accommodating resistance. The lift is lightest at the bottom position when the chains are on the floor and heaviest at the top position when the chains are elevated. Some say it helps with lock out, but it's best used for speed and dynamic work so you have more resistance to push against on the way up and save your joints.


Bands do very similar things to chains, but don't look nearly as cool. However, they are definitely a lot better in regards to speed and dynamic work and allowing the resistance to increase while saving your joints. They are also a lot cheaper and less inconspicuous in your gym bag.


The Sling Shot

Invented by Mark "Smelly" Bell, the sling shot gives the best of all possible worlds. Like many of the above, it allows you to either handle more weight or do a weight for more reps, effectively giving you more volume and overload, but also allows you to practice full range of motion and trains your elbows to be tucked in more, saving your shoulder in the long run.

Until Next Time,

Lift Big, Sing Big, and Look Great Doing It.

The Opera Bro

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