A Question of Strength-Issue 1

A Question of Strength

By Dr.X

A Question of Strength is you’re no holds barred, uncensored everything strength training. Dr. X will answer all your questions no matter how basic or advanced on anything and everything that goes on in the weight room. It doesn’t matter if you are a powerlifter, bodybuilder, strongman, MMA athlete, or just your average Joe Gym Goer, Dr.X has you covered. Just be warned if you want politically correct and soy boy content this is not for you. If you offend easily and have thin skin, go read Cosmo. But for those of you with a set of steel balls and want to learn from an elite level strength coach, buckle up for one hell of a ride cause it’s going to get bumpy.

How to Blast Through Bench Press Plateaus

Q: I have to be honest my bench press sucks ass. I need some ideas that can help me press more weight. I come to the gym and train my chest twice per week. I work up to a one-rep max each workout and it seems that my best lift is never going up. I can bench 315 for 1 rep and I really want to get to 405 as my next big goal. I usually do 135 for two sets of 8, then 225 for 6, and then 315 for 1 rep. Actually, over the last month, it seems to be going down and just the other day 275 felt heavy as hell. Can you help me out with some tips on what I can do to help increase my bench press?

Brother in Iron,

Peter Ialongo

A: Hey my man sorry to hear that your bench press is going down the tubes. I have some good tips that will help get you back up to speed. I have outlined ten bench press tips that will help get you on track and fix some of the mistakes you are currently making. I have worked with numerous World Champion Powerlifters and these are some of the most basic ideas, to begin with. Once these are mastered then you can work on more advanced techniques. So don’t fret, by following my tips your bench will soar to new heights.

1. Train for Speed and Increase Volume

Most bodybuilders lift super slow when going for a max lift and I know your thinking well of course it’s slow… it’s heavy. That’s not the point and one very important issue is to train for speed. If you don’t you will always have a shitty sub-par bench press. Instead of maxing out each week, you should use a weight that is between 50-65% of your max. This can be done by performing 50% for week 1, 55%for week 2, 60% for week 3, and 65% for week 4. The goal here is to train the bench with 8 sets of 3 reps with about 30 seconds rest between sets. Making sure you lift enough total pounds or what is known as volume workload is critical for increasing your bench press. By following my outline you are dramatically increasing the volume. If you look at the chart below on your fourth week your total volume is at 4920 pounds whereas your current volume is 1665 pounds. This is not including warm-up sets. Can you see the difference in how much actual tonnage you are moving per workout? Each rep has to be lowered at a proper speed and then once it touches your chest you have to explode. This is done for all reps of all sets. This technique is called Compensatory Acceleration and is essential to increasing your one-rep max because speed is power!

Max Bench Press 315
Program Weight Sequence Rest Period Volume

Week 1

160 pounds

8 Sets of 3 Reps

30 seconds

3840 lbs.

Week 2

175 pounds

8 Sets of 3 Reps

30 seconds

4200 lbs.

Week 3

190 pounds

8 Sets of 3 Reps

45 seconds

4560 lbs.

Week 4

205 pounds

8 Sets of 3 Reps

45 seconds

4920 lbs.

Speed Training is a Must for a Big Bench!

2. Don’t max out twice weekly

One big no-no you are doing is maxing out every week. What the hell is this I thought you were a bodybuilder? Even Powerlifters don’t do something this stupid. Science has shown that after three weeks of training over 90% of your max you will actually have a strength decrement. This is exactly what is happening to you. I wouldn’t max out more than every 4-6 weeks tops.

3. Maximize your triceps training

Triceps strength is critical for a big bench just ask any Powerlifter. Don’t waste your time with baby boy exercises but stick with power producers like negative weighted dips, skull crushers, close grip presses, rack lockouts, and JM Presses. If you want a bigger bench hitting some triceps work twice per week is a must.

Strong Triceps are Critical for a Big Bench!

4. Grip the Bar Tightly

Taking just an average grip when bench pressing is a big mistake. You need to grab the bar and squeeze it tightly like you are trying to choke the living shit out of someone you hate. Oh yea, get visual and make it happen. Think about that next-door neighbor who’s dog constantly shits on your lawn or your ex-girlfriend who gave you Herpes, do whatever it takes. Squeezing the bar tighter will make you lift more and activate muscles more efficiently in the press.

If I Catch this Dog it’s Game Over!

5. Press in a Straight line

Most people are taught to press over their faces and this is wrong. By doing this you are increasing the amount of distance you have to move the bar. Why would you do that? Plus many lifters that press over their face suffer more shoulder injuries long term. So press more and save your shoulders all in one shot.

6. Strengthen your Rotator Cuff

Not training your complete shoulder girdle is a big mistake. Not only are you setting yourself up for a rotator tear at some time in your training, but you are also limiting yourself on how much you can press. Make sure to train these exercises twice weekly with moderate weight, hitting all facets of this muscle complex.

Rotator Cuff Training is a Must!

7. Use a moderate arch

Using a moderate arch will help decrease the bar distance from your chest to lockout. It will also help activate your lats and provide a stable base from which you will press. Don’t get stupid and think you are one of the performers from Cirque de Soleil and try to make an arch that you can drive a mac truck under. This will just lead to a lower back injury that will stop your aspirations of one-day performing self-felatio.

I Wouldn’t Leave the House if I Could Do This!

8. Optimize your breathing

The key here is to suck in as much air into your lungs and belly and then hold it before taking the weight out of the rack. This will provide a much more stable press and ultimately help you lift more weight when compared to you just inhaling and exhaling in a normal fashion during this set.

9. Keep your elbows tucked in

When most guys’ bench they keep their elbows flared out and this is a disaster just waiting to happen. If you want a pec tear in the future keep pressing like this especially during your one-rep bench press max-out-athons you love so much. Keep your elbows tucked into the body and keep that tight arch. This alone will add pounds to your current max.

10.Train your weak points

The first thing I do when analyzing a lifter is that I see where their weak points are. I am talking about not only which muscle group is lagging in terms of strength but also for the biomechanics of the exercise. If you critique yourself and find that your triceps are weak then start working on them more. If you find you have no lat strength then start rowing yourself to a bigger back and a more powerful bench press. Either way be honest with yourself and hone in on what areas you need to fix then get-r-done.

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