The absolute test of strength: the Bench Press. The Holy Grail of lifting exercises. Everyone does them, which means everyone reaches a plateau at some point. Here are the 3 moves to get you to new personal bests in the shortest time.
Most people work their chest by doing a combination of full motion flat bench presses and flies, using bars and dumbbells. I do see some people who train incline and decline but, never as much as flat. For maximum mass gains this is exactly the opposite of what you should be doing. Ever notice how people arch the back in the flat bench position when the bar is too heavy, or they are tiring? Why? You are naturally stronger in the decline position, which is what arching the back does. If more weight lifted equals more mass gained and it does, why wouldn’t you focus on the decline, where you are able to lift more?
During the lifting motion you have weak points in the lift. They occur at the bottom and at the half way up spot. If muscle building results from breaking down the muscle and allowing it to regrow stronger, for the majority of the lift your weakest 2 points are only getting minimal work in a full motion press. Doesn’t it make sense that if, by definition, they are your “weak points”, these 2 spots should get the majority of the work?
Here’s the plateau shattering, new personal best achieving workout plan:
Step 1: Find your 1 or 3 rep max in the flat bench.
Step 2: Stop doing flat bench full motion presses for 1 month
Step 3: Every chest workout do the following 3 exercises
Exercise 1: Full Motion Decline Bench Presses. I do 5 pyramided sets of 6 reps with the 4th set being my heaviest weight. You should fail on the 6th rep on the 4th and 5th set.
Exercise 2: Top Half Motion Flat Bench Press. Load the bar with 80% your 1 or 3 rep max. Set the stops at the half way down point (one of your weak spots). Bring the bar down to the stops without touching them and press it back up. Do 5 sets of 6 reps. Drop 5% of the weight off each set.
Exercise 3: Bottom Half Motion Flat Bench Press. Load the bar with 60% of your 1 or 3 rep max. Set the stops at chest level. Start with the weight on the stops. Push up 5 or 6 inches and come back down to the stops. Some people place the weight on the stops between each rep. Or not. Your choice. Do 5 sets of 6 reps, dropping 5% on each set.
If you want to finish with any kind of incline work and or flies, go ahead. It won’t hurt (well, it should hurt, but it won’t harm you!). After a month of this routine call all your buddies around as you set your new personal best on the Holy Grail of Lifting, the Flat Bench Press