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  1. #1
    Blown_SC is offline Retired Vet
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    How to Bench Big...

    Bench Press 600 Pounds - A 12 Step Program
    by Dave Tate

    Obviously, not everyone has the genetic raw material to bench press 600 pounds. However, if anyone can teach you to increase your bench, it's Dave Tate. Dave's been assisting and training under Louie Simmons of Westside Barbell fame for over 10 years. He's also the co-owner of Elite Fitness Systems and has consulted thousands of athletes throughout the world. When an athlete wants to get stronger and gain an edge in the world of elite, world class competition, the name Dave Tate is often on the short list of strength coaches who can get the job done. As you'll see, Dave "walks the walk" as well as "talks the talk" when it comes to getting bigger and stronger. We're proud to welcome him as a Testosterone contributor.


    I spend most of my weekends in transit these days. In fact, I'm writing this article on a plane headed to yet another seminar I'm conducting. This travel time gives me the chance to think, relax, and reflect on many issues detling with training and life. I also use the time to prepare for my upcoming seminar or consulting session. I normally sit here going over what topics I'll be presenting and how I can better relate them to my audience. But today there's a problem. No there's not a creature on the wing throwing monkey wrenches into the plane's engines, but it's almost that bad. The problem is all I can think about is my bench press!

    You see, I train at Westside Barbell, which is renowned for producing world-caliber strength athletes. I've been a part of this group since 1990. Before that, I had spent five years stuck at a 1955 pound total in powerlifting. Then I tore my right pectoralis major tendon while trying to bench 500 at a bench press competition. I figured that was the end of competition days and thought about retiring from the sport. Then I thought to myself, retire from what? I haven't done anything yet!

    I knew I had two options: I could keep training the way I always had and totally fall apart, or I could move to Columbus to train under the watchful eye of Louie Simmons. It wasn't that difficult of a decision. After the surgery I packed the car and moved to Columbus. That was over 10 years ago. Since then, my lifts have increased to a 935-pound squat, 585-pound bench and a 740-pound deadlift. This was after my surgeon told me I'd never bench over 400 again!

    Although my bench press has increased 85 pounds, it's still a far cry from where it should be. At Westside we have 34 guys benching over 500 pounds and eight benching over 600. (In fact, six of those eight guys press over 650!) My bench pretty much sucks when compared to the others in the gym. When people ask me for bench advice, I cringe because I'm still chasing 600. I've missed that mark five times in competition atthe time of this writing.

    I kept telling myself that once I push up 600 pounds I'd write a
    definitive article on benching. Well, I haven't hit that mark yet, but I
    do have the biggest bench out of everyone on my flight, so I'm feeling
    like an authority on benching at the moment. Who knows, maybe writing
    this article I'll teach myself something, or remember something I've
    forgotten? I also feel the need to write this because of the vast amount
    of misinformation out there on this subject. I feel there're 12
    components to a great bench press. If we apply these 12 steps, then
    perhaps you and I both will reach our bench press goals.


    12 Steps to a Bigger Bench

    1 - Train the Triceps

    Years ago, if you had asked Larry Pacifico how to get a big bench, he'd
    have told you to train the triceps. This same advice applies today. This
    doesn't mean doing set after set of pushdowns, kickbacks, and other
    so-called "shaping" exercises. Training your triceps for a big bench has
    to involve heavy extensions and close-grip pressing movements such as
    close-grip flat and incline bench presses, close-grip board presses, and
    JM presses.

    Various barbell and dumbbell extensions should also be staples of your
    training program. Don't let anyone try to tell you the bench press is
    about pec strength. These people don't know the correct way to bench and
    are setting you up for a short pressing career with sub-par weights. I
    just read an article in one of the major muscle magazines by one of
    these authors on how to increase your bench press. The advice given was
    to train your pecs with crossovers and flies and your bench will go up!
    This, along with many other points, made me wonder how this article ever
    got published or better yet, how much the author himself could bench.

    I believe articles should go under a peer review board before they get
    printed. I'd like many of my peers to review these authors in the gym or
    better yet on the bench to see how much they really know. Bottom line:
    Train the triceps!

    2 - Keep your shoulder blades pulled together and tight.

    This is a very important and often overlooked aspect of great bench
    pressing. While pressing you have to create the most stable environment
    possible. This can't be done if most of your shoulder blades are off the
    bench. The bench is only so wide and we can't change this, but we can
    change how we position ourselves on the bench.

    When you pull your shoulder blades together you're creating a tighter,
    more stable surface from which to press. This is because more of your
    body is in contact with the bench. The tightness of your upper back also
    contributes. These techniques also change the distance the bar will have
    to travel. The key to pressing big weight is to press the shortest
    distance possible.

    3 - Keep the pressure on your upper back and traps.

    This is another misunderstood aspect of pressing. You want the pressure
    around the supporting muscles. This is accomplished by driving your feet
    into the floor, thereby driving your body into the bench. Try this: Lie
    on the bench and line up so your eyes are four inches in front of the
    bar (toward your feet). Now using your legs, drive yourself into the
    bench to put pressure on the upper back and traps. Your eyes should now
    be even with the bar. This is the same pressure that needs to be applied
    while pushing the barbell.

    4 - Push the bar in a straight line.

    Try to push the bar toward your feet. The shortest distance between two
    points is a straight line, right? Then why in the world would some
    coaches advocate pressing in a "J" line toward the rack? If I were to
    bench the way most trainers are advocating (with my elbows out, bringing
    the bar down to the chest and pressing toward the rack) my barbell
    travel distance would be 16 inches. Now, if I pull my shoulder blades
    together, tuck my chin and elbows, and bring the bar to my upper
    abdominals or lower chest, then my pressing distance is only 6.5 inches.
    Now which would you prefer? If you want to push up a bar-bending load of
    plates, you'd choose the shorter distance.

    Here's another important aspect of pressing in this style. By keeping
    your shoulder blades together and your chin and elbows tucked, you'll
    have less shoulder rotation when compared to the J-line method of
    pressing. This is easy to see by watching how low the elbows drop in the
    bottom part of the press when the barbell is on the chest. With the
    elbows out, most everyone's elbows are far lower than the bench. This
    creates a tremendous amount of shoulder rotation and strain.

    Now try the same thing with the elbows tucked and shoulder blades
    together while bringing the barbell to your upper abdominals. For most
    people, the elbows are usually no lower than the bench. Less shoulder
    rotation equals less strain on the shoulder joint. This means pressing
    bigger weights for many more years. I've always been amazed at trainers
    that suggest only doing the top half of the bench press, i.e. stopping
    when the upper arms are parallel to the floor. This is done to avoid the
    excess shoulder rotation. All they have to do is teach their clients the
    proper way to bench in the first place!

    5 - Keep the elbows tucked and the bar directly over the wrists and
    elbows.


    This is probably the most important aspect of great pressing technique.
    The elbows must remain tucked to keep the bar in a straight line as
    explained above. Keeping the elbows tucked will also allow lifters to
    use their lats to drive the bar off the chest. Football players are
    taught to drive their opponents with their elbows tucked, then explode
    through. This is the same for bench pressing. Bench pressing is all
    about generating force. You can generate far more force with your elbows
    in a tucked position compared to an "elbows out" position.

    The most important aspect of this is to keep the barbell in a direct
    line with the elbow. If the barbell is behind the elbow toward the head,
    then the arm position becomes similar to an extension, not a press.

    6 - Bring the bar low on your chest or upper abdominals.

    This is the only way you can maintain the "barbell to elbow" position as
    described above. You may have heard the advice, "Bring it low" at almost
    every powerlifting competition. This is the reason why. Once again, the
    barbell must travel in a straight line.

    7 - Fill your belly with air and hold it.

    For maximum attempts and sets under three reps, you must try to hold
    your air. Everyone must learn to breathe from their bellies and not
    their chests. If you stand in front of the mirror and take a deep
    breath, your shoulders shouldn't rise. If they do you're breathing the
    air into your chest, not your belly. Greater stability can be achieved
    in all the lifts when you learn how to pull air into the belly. Try to
    expand and fill the belly with as much air as possible and hold it. If
    you breathe out during a maximum attempt, the body structure will change
    slightly, thus changing the groove in which the barbell is traveling.

    8 - Train with compensatory acceleration.

    Push the bar with maximal force. Whatever weight you're trying to push,
    be it 40% or 100% of your max, you must learn to apply 100% of the force
    to the barbell. If you can bench 500 pounds and are training with 300
    pounds, you must then apply 500 pounds of force to the 300-pound
    barbell. This is known as compensatory acceleration and it can help you
    break through sticking points.

    These sticking points are known as your "mini maxes," or the points at
    which you miss the lift or the barbell begins to slip out of the groove.
    Many times I'm asked what to do if the barbell gets stuck four to five
    inches off the chest. Everybody wants to know what exercise will help
    them strengthen this area or what body part is holding them back. Many
    times it isn't what you do to strengthen the area where it sticks, but
    what you can do to build more acceleration in the area before the mini
    max. If you can get the bar moving with more force then there won't be a
    sticking point. Instead, you'll blast right through it. Compensatory
    acceleration will help you do this.

    9 - Squeeze the barbell and try to pull the bar apart!

    Regardless of the lift, you have to keep your body as tight as Monica
    Brant's behind. You'll never lift big weights if you're in a relaxed
    physical state while under the barbell. The best way to get the body
    tight is by squeezing the bar. We've also found that if you try to pull
    the bar apart or "break the bar," the triceps seem to become more
    activated.

    10 - Devote one day per week to dynamic-effort training.

    According to Vladimir Zatsiorsinsky in his text Science and Practice of
    Strength Training, there are three ways to increase muscle tension.
    These three methods include the dynamic-effort method, the
    maximal-effort method, and the repetition method. Most training programs
    being practiced in the US today only utilize one or two of these
    methods. It's important, however, to use all three.

    The bench press should be trained using the dynamic-effort method. This
    method is best defined as training with sub-maximal weights (45 to 60%)
    at maximal velocities. The key to this method is bar speed. Percentage
    training can be very deceiving. The reason for this is because lifters
    at higher levels have better motor control and recruit more muscle than
    a less experienced lifter.

    For example, the maximal amount of muscle you could possibility recruit
    is 100%. Now, the advanced lifter _ after years of teaching his nervous
    system to be efficient _ may be able to recruit 70 to 80% of muscle
    fibers, while the intermediate might be able to recruit only 50%. Thus,
    the advanced lifter would need less percent weight than the
    intermediate. This is one of the reasons why an advanced lifter
    squatting 80% of his max for 10 reps would kill himself while a beginner
    could do it all day long.

    If you base the training on bar speed, then the percentages are no
    longer an issue, only a guideline. So how do you know where to start? If
    you're an intermediate lifter, I suggest you start at 50% of maximal and
    see how fast you can make it move for three reps. If you can move 20
    more pounds with the same speed then use the heavier weight.

    Based on years of experience and Primlin's charts for optimal percent
    training, we've found the best range to be eight sets of three reps.
    Based on Primlin's research, the optimal range for 70% and less is 12 to
    24 repetitions.

    We've also found it very beneficial to train the bench using three
    different grips, all of which are performed within the rings. This may
    break down into two sets with the pinky fingers on the rings, three sets
    with three fingers from the smooth area of the bar and three sets with
    one finger from the smooth area.


    11 - Devote one day per week to maximal-effort training.

    For the second bench day of the week (72 hours after the dynamic day)
    you should concentrate on the maximal-effort method. This is best
    defined as lifting maximal weights (90% to 100%) for one to three reps.
    This is one of the best methods to develop maximal strength. The key
    here is to strain. The downfall is you can't train above 90% for longer
    than three weeks without having adverse effects.

    Try performing a max bench press every week for four or five weeks.
    You'll see you may progress for the first two, maybe three weeks, then
    your progress will halt and begin to work its way backward. We've
    combated this by switching up the maximal-effort exercises. We rotate
    maximal-effort movements such as the close-grip incline press, board
    press, floor press, and close-grip flat press. These exercises are all
    specific to bench pressing and all have a very high carryover value.

    12 - Train the lats on the same plane as the bench.

    I'm talking about the horizontal plane here. In other words, you must
    perform rows, rows, and more rows. "If you want to bench big then you
    need to train the lats." I've heard both George Hilbert and Kenny
    Patterson say this for years when asked about increasing the bench
    press. When you bench you're on a horizontal plane. So would it make
    sense from a balance perspective to train the lats with pulldowns, which
    are on a vertical plane? Nope. Stick to the barbell row if you want a
    big bench.


    Now that my trip is over and I'm back in Columbus, I no longer feel like
    an authority on bench pressing. My 585 pound bench press is considered
    sort of "puny" by Westside standards, after all. By writing this
    article, however, I've realized a few things I need to change about my
    bench pressing. I bet you have too. Hopefully, I've helped you correct a
    few problems that might've been keeping you from breaking your own
    personal record. Remember, the smallest things often bring the biggest
    results.
    Last edited by Blown_SC; 03-20-2005 at 12:28 AM.

  2. #2
    diesel21's Avatar
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    good info, i benched 415 for 3 reps one time, i'm also about 185 though... i currently always get to 375, just scared to rip something!

    i'll def take advantage of that info, thanx

  3. #3
    bluethunder is offline Anabolic Member
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    Great post BlownSC . I have never been one to lift very heavy but more to feeling the muscle ultlizing moderate poundages. But then again I was not attempting to see max benching as one of my goals. You are correct many do not realize the back is used in the bench. I may put to use your good points in the near future to see my personal best increase which is only 315lbs but I only weighed 165-170lbs at the time.

  4. #4
    imann is offline Member
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    this has to be the best bp post on the board.....great info...............can't wait to apply it!

  5. #5
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    Great post...
    Next bench day on Monday and I can't wait now!
    Thanks bro

  6. #6
    63190's Avatar
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    I'll do bench tomorrow using some if not all of these points. It's funny, I guess going elbows wide is what helped to tear up my shoulders but that's how I got 280. I'm going to have to relearn every thing about benching. But right now, narrow grip bench press kills me with more than 95lbs for 6 reps.

  7. #7
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    bump

  8. #8
    decadbal's Avatar
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    good post blown...

  9. #9
    ScooterBoy is offline Junior Member
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  10. #10
    dynamike's Avatar
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    bump!

  11. #11
    sensaispike's Avatar
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    awsom info

  12. #12
    josh8416's Avatar
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    great info!! cant wait for chest day!!

  13. #13
    Jackman's Avatar
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    bump

  14. #14
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    This is one awesome post, I hope I can utilize the info here
    Thanks so much
    Alex

  15. #15
    Blown_SC is offline Retired Vet
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    TTT...

  16. #16
    BigDogRonnieC's Avatar
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    nice post and it is good to see a really well informed post. nice work i enjoyed reading it.

  17. #17
    Panzerfaust's Avatar
    Panzerfaust is offline Ron Paul Nuthugger
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    Awesome! This is exactly what i needed to read, my bench is my weakest link and i will be focusing on these techniques come Wed.

    Thanks bro!

  18. #18
    GREENMACHINE's Avatar
    GREENMACHINE is offline Are you green enough?
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    Bump

  19. #19
    znak's Avatar
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    great post. bumperroosky

  20. #20
    BASK8KACE is offline Anabolic Member
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    Good post. Bump.

    xxample (elbows bench press)

  21. #21
    Jantzen4k's Avatar
    Jantzen4k is offline Anabolic Nittany Lion
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    great post

  22. #22
    Blown_SC is offline Retired Vet
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  23. #23
    mushroomstampr's Avatar
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    does anyone else find it very funny that this thread got well over a thousand views but the squatting big thread received little over a hundred views?

  24. #24
    Blown_SC is offline Retired Vet
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    Quote Originally Posted by mushroomstampr
    does anyone else find it very funny that this thread got well over a thousand views but the squatting big thread received little over a hundred views?
    I posted this one in October. I posted the other one in the tail end of January.

  25. #25
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    great post man
    i cant wait to bench tomorow!!

  26. #26
    BIGp4's Avatar
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    oh and bump

  27. #27
    mushroomstampr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blown_SC
    I posted this one in October. I posted the other one in the tail end of January.
    I didn't notice that, but still 1,543 views is a big difference from 140. Guess people don't wanna be squatting big. I gotta say that I got more out of the squatting article than the benching one.....but then again that's because my squatting form was that bad. Oh well gotta go and work out my legs anyway now.

  28. #28
    BIG D14 is offline Junior Member
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    nice post man cant wait to try it out

  29. #29
    Trafficdodger is offline New Member
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    great post...my buddy showed me this with tennis balls in the arm pits. they fall, bad form, do it again. best way i ever re-learned to bench

  30. #30
    needle's Avatar
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    Im going to try it out now, great read!

  31. #31
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    josh NIce AVATAR!!!!!!!!!!!

  32. #32
    JDMSilviaSpecR's Avatar
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    Bump for a good thread.

  33. #33
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    awesome post someone should make it sticky

  34. #34
    Blown_SC is offline Retired Vet
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    Quote Originally Posted by diezell
    awesome post someone should make it sticky
    If you read the sticky at the top of this forum, this article is included.

  35. #35
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    Great read, i can't wait to apply these new technique's my next chest workout.

  36. #36
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    awesome

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