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December 02, 2014

I try not to talk about the bench press because it always seem to be such a popular topic, but I’m going to break my silence today. I see too many lifters struggling with bench press due to a particular problem area that takes minimal effort to address. It’s usually either off the chest or close to lockout so we’ll focus on those. The sets and reps listed are good for both beginners and more advanced lifters, but don’t be afraid to drop into the 1 to 3 rep range with the big exercises as you progress.

 

 

Sticking Point: Chest

1) Flat Bench

Sets and Reps: 3-second Pause, 3 sets and 5 reps

It’s an old phrase but a good one: if you want to become a better bencher, you have to bench. That’s why you’ll be working with the traditional flat bench press. To hit that pesky chest sticking point you’ll use a moderate pause to help build strength where you need it. Set up on a flat bench with a strong arch and feet flat on the floor. Grab the bar with your usual hand position, pull it to your chest, and pause for a long 3 seconds. As soon as you hit 3, blow it up to lockout. The goal is to build strength off your chest so focus on accelerating the weight as quickly as possible.

 


 

2) Stability Ball DB Bench Press

Sets and Reps: 2 sets and 12 reps 

I’m actually a big fan of using the stability ball to increase the difficulty of some exercises, but I always seem to forget about. Not today. Dumbbell presses allow for a greater range of motion than barbell presses and require more input from stabilizing muscles, and the latter is taxed even more with the addition of the stability ball. Grab a dumbbell in each hand and lay your upper back against a large ball. Set up in a tight pressing position, get your balance, and start pressing. If you’re wobbling all over the place then you need to drop the weight – just suck it up.

 

3) Weighted Dips

Sets and Reps: 3 sets and until failure

Dips are a great way to train both the chest and the triceps. For chest sticking point work we’re mostly interested in the chest, but just remember they’re a great all-around movement. Set up in the dip position at a dip machine or any close parallel bars. Your best bet is to use a belt to add weight, but you should be able to get by with a dumbbell between your feet if you don’t have access to one. Don’t let your body drop too far beyond a 90-degree bend in your arms and make sure to explode through lockout.

 

4) Chest Supported DB Row

Sets and Reps: 4 sets and 8 reps

This may come as a surprise to some, but the upper back plays a major role in the bench press. Build a strong one to increase stability, control, and overall pressing strength. The chest-supported DB row might not look as cool as heavy bent barbell rows, but it’s a safer bet for most. Set an adjustable bench to a 45-degree angle and hop on, face down. Let your knees tuck into the crack created by the incline. Holding a dumbbell in each hand, row them to your chest. Squeeze for a second or two, then let your arms extend back to the starting position. If you’re looking for a safer rowing option that won’t be effected by poor technique like the bent row, this is the way to go.

 

 

5) T-Bar Row

Sets and Reps: 3 sets and 12 reps

Like the stability ball, I tend to forget about this great rowing variation. The T-bar row is a handy horizontal rowing movement that can build quality strength in the many stabilizing muscles of the upper back that contribute to beastly bench pressing. Push one end of a barbell into a corner and load the other with weight. Facing the loaded end, straddle the barbell and drop into a nice athletic stance. Grab the barbell with both hands – they’ll be facing each other, a neutral position. Now, row the barbell to your chest, just as you would with any other row, then let your arms extend back to the start. Make sure to keep your knees slightly bent and avoid any excessive rounding of the lower back.

 

 

Sticking Point: Lockout

1) Board Press @ Sticking Point

Sets and Reps: 3 sets and 5 reps

The board press is one of the most effective exercises to directly train your own personal sticking point. It’s most common to use a stack of actual wood boards, but you can get by with a good spotter and a few light plates. Set up on the bench in a strong position and have your spotter place the stack on your chest. Bring the bar towards your chest like normal. This time, your range will be limited by the height of the boards. Tap the boards, then explode to lockout. The stack height depends on you’re sticking point, but it’s hard to go wrong with a two or three board height.

 

 

 

2) Close Grip Bench Press

Sets and Reps: 2 sets and 12 reps

Close grip bench not only builds strong triceps, but it also helps saves your shoulders. On that note, if you’re ever concerned about your shoulders you should consider narrowing your hand position. Set up exactly as you would during a normal flat bench press, but narrow your grip by at least one hand-width on each side – that’s a good starting position for anyone new to close grip pressing. Other than the change in grip width, crank out the reps just like you would with any other pressing variation. But don’t cheat them – make sure you’re getting the full range of motion.

 

 

  

3) Weighted Dips

Sets and Reps: 3 sets and until failure 

I couldn’t resist double dipping. As described above, dips are great for both chest and triceps strength. Perform them following the description from the chest sticking point workout and use the same cues.

 

 

4) Heavy Lat Pulls

Sets and Reps: 4 sets and 6 reps 

I know, I know – lat pulls aren’t for the triceps. But after four tough triceps exercise I’m thinking you could use a break. And as we discussed in the first workout, it’s always beneficial to build a strong upper back. Set up on a lat pulldown machine with a medium grip. Pull the bar down somewhere between your chest and your chin, pause and squeeze for a brief second, then return to the start. Keep your butt flat on the bench and try to maintain a straight torso throughout the movement – this should help ensure that your upper back and lats are the ones doing the real work.

 

 

 

5) Band Resisted Pushup

Sets and Reps: 3 sets and until failure

Sometimes I feel like I talk way too much about pushups, but that’s crazy. If you’re not doing pushups…well, you’re missing out. Today, we’re going to work with the band-resisted pushup. Grab a resistance band – start with the easiest and increase difficulty as you go – and swing it around your back. Grab the loose end with your other hand and drop into a pushup position. The band should lay across your upper back without much trouble. From here it’s just another pushup. The band is going to add resistance towards lockout so make sure you push all the way through – that means both arms fully extended. Use a more tense band or switch to a tougher pushup variation to increase difficulty.

 

 

- Team Supplements.co.nz

 

**The information on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other healthcare professional or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. Before starting any new exercise program we recommend consulting your doctor first.**


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