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  1. #1
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    Default Bench Press: Strong at top, weak at bottom

    Wanting to know the most effective way to build power and strength at the bottom part of the bench press.

    Bench depends so much on body mechanics, and I am no exception. I put myself in the "long arms" category. I am strong at the top (can easily do 1/3rd reps of 315+) but when it comes to doing a full rep, I'm stuck near 285. Heck my incline bench is even 90% of my flat. I typically workout with dumbbells since they do not require a spotter, but I cannot get more than 130's up by myself (not easy). For barbell bench, I have a fairly wide grip, placing index finger on the "rings".

    So looking for an exercise that:

    1) I can do by myself with no spotter
    2) Builds the lower part of my bench with the goal of
    3) Increasing bench to and above 315. I've been on again/off again lifter for a few years, and always hit the same plateau. Now I'm 40 yrs old and back to my previous peak so dammit I want to hit 3 plates!

    I've tried negatives in the past in the rack, but I really didn't see much improvement. I was thinking maybe start the bar resting on the pins, then BEGIN the press from the bottom? Another alternative is I could use the 100-120 dumbbells, but focus on accelerating them up from the low point?

    If anyone has successfully worked through this issue, any help would be appreciated.

  2. #2
    Time To Rebound! LayzieBone085's Avatar
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    Board press
    Team ScoobyPrep

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by LayzieBone085 View Post
    Board press
    I'm not sure that would be good to do by myself, unless I went only moderate weight. I suppose having a board on my chest would at least disperse the weight evenly so that I could just let it sit there if I ran out of steam. I tend to want to go near failure so that's my only concern.

  4. #4
    Moderator EKnight's Avatar
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    I'd start using speed work with ~50% of your max for triples. This will get you use to being explosive out of the bottom of the press. How do you train (split, volume, etc.)?
    Donít chase the 1%, there is no magic training routine or diet thatís going to provide any measurable results over the basic principles for getting huge and strong: Train heavy, eat and sleep more.

  5. #5
    Time To Rebound! LayzieBone085's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TooWeak View Post
    I'm not sure that would be good to do by myself, unless I went only moderate weight. I suppose having a board on my chest would at least disperse the weight evenly so that I could just let it sit there if I ran out of steam. I tend to want to go near failure so that's my only concern.

    Exactly it's not meant to be a ME (Max effort) movement but to help you explode out the hole
    Team ScoobyPrep

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    Quote Originally Posted by EKnight View Post
    I'd start using speed work with ~50% of your max for triples. This will get you use to being explosive out of the bottom of the press. How do you train (split, volume, etc.)?
    I have two typical types of chest days.

    Dumbbell Day:
    First warm up with a ton of reps using 135 barbell (just because it's easy and someone usually already left the weight on there :-)
    Then I'll move over and do a set of 80's X 8-10 reps, then a set of 110's at 6-8 reps, then a final set of 125 for 3-5 reps. I'm trying to exceed 130's, but it's just hard getting them up.

    Barbell Day:
    Warm up with 135 for a lot of reps. Then, I move straight to 225 (usually a set of 12), then I'll typically try 275 for 3-4 reps, then I'm done. Sometimes after, I'll go to the rack, and add a 315 negative but I'm not big on those (haven't helped yet).

    I probably rest 3-4 days in between chest workouts, and I eat a ton. Overall, the dumbbell routine is my most common, just because I like all the extra muscles it tends to work like shoulders and grip. I feel like I tend to go heavy but not many reps overall. My objective is 100% building strength, not size. I can already sense some good routine advice is coming...
    Last edited by TooWeak; 12-09-2015 at 05:36 PM.

  7. #7
    Just joined M&S TooWeak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LayzieBone085 View Post
    Exactly it's not meant to be a ME (Max effort) movement but to help you explode out the hole
    Thank you sir...I need to go get a board now :-)

  8. #8
    Moderator EKnight's Avatar
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    What about your back work? In terms of that chest work, your working too close to max weight too frequently. Switch out one day for a speed day and try a conjugate method routine. If you're not doing adequate back work (twice as much volume as chest and front delts) you are likely going to have issues pressing from the bottom as well.

    Are you familiar with Westside Barbell training?
    Donít chase the 1%, there is no magic training routine or diet thatís going to provide any measurable results over the basic principles for getting huge and strong: Train heavy, eat and sleep more.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by EKnight View Post
    What about your back work? In terms of that chest work, your working too close to max weight too frequently. Switch out one day for a speed day and try a conjugate method routine. If you're not doing adequate back work (twice as much volume as chest and front delts) you are likely going to have issues pressing from the bottom as well.

    Are you familiar with Westside Barbell training?
    I like the idea of the speed/explosive training at lower weight, I will incorporate that soon, and also the rack or board presses. Overall, I think I could use some more chest volume. I'll alternate speed days and heavy days.

    Both back and shoulders are my strong points, and yeah I do way more volume on back day so I don't think there are any issues stemming from those.

    I have not heard of Westside Barbell Training...I shall google it!

  10. #10
    Moderator EKnight's Avatar
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    I can tell you with near certainty that volume is not your issue. Have you read the article here on routine design? This may help: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/ar...gn-for-dummies
    Donít chase the 1%, there is no magic training routine or diet thatís going to provide any measurable results over the basic principles for getting huge and strong: Train heavy, eat and sleep more.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by EKnight View Post
    I can tell you with near certainty that volume is not your issue. Have you read the article here on routine design? This may help: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/ar...gn-for-dummies
    Yeah I'll have to stare at that plan for a while until it really sinks in. I like the variability aspect of it, and it sounds like it's a great strength program. Proof is in the pudding they have guys with totals of 2600-3005 lbs lifting at that gym in Ohio wow!

    Gonna try speedy bench tomorrow, I'm still recovering from squats yesterday. I decided to do "bottom up" squats and wow that was a great workout! Vertical jump is one thing I'm working on so I think these are gonna help explosiveness.

  12. #12
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    Did the "explosive" bench presses yesterday, and also in the squat rack where I set the pin level. Felt great!

    First, I set the pins right at chest level, with the bar touching my chest, so very low. I did a few reps of 225, which was harder than I thought. I know typically, I am still a good 2" above my chest at bottom of my typical bench press. Tried 245 for a couple reps too.

    Then, I switched to "upper" range of motion, and set the pins high...did 315 for a few reps for a range of "4 pin holes" starting from top and going down. That was nice because with a full range bench press, my limiting factor is the bottom so I can't go 315. My plan is to continue to explode up from bottom, and gradually increase weight, then with my upper 315's, try to add pin holes until I end up at full range. Then, my 315 goal will be attained.

    In between I did a couple 275 full range reps, then finished off with a bunch of 185 to 135 narrow grip.

    One other thing, with the low explosive presses, I narrowed my grip. Usually, I have a very wide grip, but this time I put my arms at my side and pinky on the "ring" and it actually felt really comfortable. I think the wide grip is why my incline bench is so good, but I was probably lacking in tricep strength. It's hard to start from chest level with a wide grip, the narrow was much more natural so maybe that will train parts that I have neglected.

    Hopefully this will help me break my plateau.

    For the lower weight speed reps...what an excellent way to go "heavy" without a spotter. If you push a moderate weight as fast as you possibly can, the force generated SHOULD be near your max press equivalent. The only caveat is that the time interval of max force is small. But in this case, if you get tired, you are not in danger of being crushed without a spotter...you simply "slow down" the last rep and rack it. Not sure why I have never thought of that before, thanks EKnight!
    Last edited by TooWeak; 12-12-2015 at 03:59 PM.

  13. #13
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    Thought I would send an update.

    I bought a pair of 60 lb rated bands and have been alternating between speed week and heavy week. I've only gone through two cycles so far, but already I am seeing results. In fact, I just busted through a multi-year bench press plateau!! So it's helping bigtime. Also, I am doing some reps in the rack off the rails at chest level which helps the lower portion especially. I used to do "partial" reps when going heavy because I was scared of the bottom, but now, I welcome it.

    My previous best "full" rep used to be 285. I can already do that for 2 reps now and hit my 300 pr yesterday...twice. next stop 315 I hope.

  14. #14
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    Moving on up...305 now. It's really the bottom part that's the worst still. Once I get past the midpoint, it accelerates upward. Gonna do a speed day today (155 + band), then try for 315 in 5 days. I've been on a 5 day bench press rotation, figure that will give me sufficient rest.

  15. #15
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    Took a week off due to a sore back, but actually came back stronger. Up to 310 now. Still cycling 155+bands 15 sets of 3 one week, then heavy week.

  16. #16
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    Finally got 315 on 3/25. This speed routine really works well! I'm sold.

  17. #17
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    PR today with flat dumbbell press 130's X 3 reps. Actually did 70, 80, 90, 100, 110, 120, 130, 3 reps each.

    Previously, one time I got 130 X 1 rep.

    I'l have to try for 140's in a couple weeks. Hard part is getting them up, I have to try to keep arms extended as I fall back. I don't think I could cold start 130's at the very bottom.
    Last edited by TooWeak; 04-05-2016 at 07:27 PM.

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    Congrats on your good work, keep it up.

 

 

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