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Big Bench Press
Article care of http://nps.ticz.com
Constructing a Big Bench
By Glenn Buechlein C.S.C.S
(Ranked top 5 in 242 lb.)
Before discussing the construction of a big bench I would like to give a synopsis of the evolution of my personal experiences and progression in bench pressing. As with many novice lifters I lacked knowledge about the intricacies of strength training. My presumption was that if a little is good, then more should be better, so I embarked on a quest to train as often as possible. However, after years of this insane approach, I found my progress had stagnated and I was chronically overtrained. There are various signals and warnings when one is overtrained, such as an increased resting pulse and a general feeling of lethargy. My personal barometer for knowing I was sinking into the abyss of overtraining, is something rather simple. If my desire to attack the weights is lacking then I know something is amiss. That is, if I looked at the bench and was not "ready to rock" this indicated that I should reevaluate what I was doing pertaining to the bench press.
At the tender age of 22, I could bench press approximately 440 lbs. raw.(without equipment) This was done at a body weight of 205 lbs. At 27 this total had not changed. There are various reasons for my lack of improvement. First, I began my career as a high school social science instructor and coach. The time restraints of by job limited my constructive training. My goal at this time was simply to my bench, which I did. Today, I realize that even with a minimal amount of time and even less energy I still should have improved. Another factor was my heavy emphasis on squats and back exercises. These movements wreaked havoc on my shoulders, which in turn limited my development of a bigger bench. Finally, a huge reason for my lack of improvement was that, although I was a pretty good lifter, I simply had reached a point where I did not know what the hell I was doing or trying to accomplish. As the saying goes, "sometimes you have to step out of the forest to see the trees."
In 1994, I ventured out of the dismal forest and was enlightened by the powerlifting guru from Columbus, Ohio. Yes, I discovered Louis Simmons and immediately purchased his instructional tapes and began experimenting with his ingenious techniques. Soon my bench was hovering around the coveted 500 lb. mark. This was accomplished at 225 lbs. bodyweight and an Inzer single-ply polyester suit which was sure to add a good 5-10 lbs. By 1996, I had pressed 550 lbs. at 220 lbs. bodyweight. This ranked me 6th in the nation. Not bad for an enlightened lummox. Recently I crushed all of my personal records by officially benching 620 lbs. at 233 lbs. bodyweight.
I attribute this steady progress since 1994 to several things. A major factor was that I trained smarter in the gym. By the way, the gym I train at is in my basement. By smarter, I mean I utilized my time in the gym more efficiently and I focused on a scientific approach to training. Everything I did was well thought out and was done with a particular purpose in mind. I did not do useless exercises and I geared my workouts towards a primary goal of benching additional poundages. If an exercise did not aid my benching progress, then I did not waste my time doing it. It does take time and experimentation in order to decipher what works for you. It is wrong to follow anotherís program blindly because all sorts of factors might cause your adherence to the program to not be practical. Also, I do not buy the notion that any workout is better than none at all. I would rather not workout and recuperate than perform unproductive exercises.
A second factor was the implementation of various innovative exercises for my bench press. I will discuss each of these exercises and rate them as far as their effectiveness in a later article.
Lastly, I eventually realized the importance of a flawless bench suit. I rarely train in my suits, but I have discovered that a good suit is vital if you want to excel in the arena with the big boys. Initially ,I was probably gaining an extra 50 lbs. by using a denim bench suit. Currently, with years of practice and refinement, I honestly believe that my suit adds and additional 80 lbs. to my lift. For example, my current raw bench is around 540 lbs. In my last meet I benched 620 lbs. I believe this is not uncommon with experienced lifters. It is a moot argument by some who claim the suit only adds a minimal amount to a lift. Certainly the rapid increases in bench press totals this decade can be attributed to bench press suit technology.
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