Train Your Chest For Power And Size
The barbell bench press is used by all types of lifters because it can demonstrate total upper body power and strength; but although it may appear to be the same for everyone, it can differ depending on what your overall goal may be or what you are training for. Powerlifters and bodybuilders use this movement as a staple of their training program, but the differences aren't just in the amount of sets and rep ranges they use, it's in overall goals and execution of the lift.
The primary muscle used in the bench press is the pectoralis major, which is focused on for bodybuilders by "flaring out" the elbows so they are about parallel with the shoulders and generally performed with a partial range of motion (they don't touch the barbell to their chest or lock out at the top) to keep constant tension on the muscle. This is a big difference when compared to a powerlifter needs to recruit as many muscles as possible to lift the maximum amount of weight. Powerlifters will often pull their feet backwards under the bench and create a large arch in the spine in order to lessen the amount of distance the bar has to travel and transfer the force generated by the legs to help push the weight. They also will tuck their shoulder blades and engage the lats to form a stable base against the bench in order to increase stability and press even more weight.
Try this workout to incorporate the "powerlifters bench press" using a low rep range for more sets of heavier weights and combine it with more traditional reps ranges for developing the pecs.
- "Powerlifters" Barbell bench press: 8 set of 3 repetitions. Begin the workout with 2 warm-up sets of 5 reps at about 50% your 1RM. After your warm-up sets are completed, load the barbell with about 70-75% 1RM for your first set. Focus on moving the weight with max force for each repetition, accelerating the weight off of your chest. For each following set, increase the weight till you reach about 90-95% 1RM for your last set. Rest for 2 minutes between each set.
- Incline Barbell Press: 4 sets of 8 repetitions.
- Incline Dumbbell Press: 4 sets of 8 repetitions
- Dumbbell Fly or Pec-Deck: 3 sets of 10-12 repetitions
- Cable Decline Flys: 3 sets of 10-12 repetitions
- Pull overs (dumbbell or barbell): 3 sets of 15-20 repetitions.