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Benching for strength vs benching for size...

bigrobbie

bigrobbie

MuscleHead
Sep 19, 2010
526
150
#1
I was reading Muscle and Fitness magazine last night and they had an article on Bench Press training. They raised an interesting point that is really basic, but I had simply forgotten...How easy it is to lock into a routine and forget important base knowledge!

The point was raised (as the title may have prefaced) that we should not forget-as common place as the bench press is-that the method used, and by method I mean rep count, rep speed, weight used, etc., can determine if we are using our time on the flat bench to work for strength gains, or size gains?

This is one of those weight lifting 101 fast, slow and intermediate twitch muscle fiber issues. I am not a believer of the light weight-high reps "theory" many claim to use when "toning." But I do believe that by going lighter on the weight will help you to maintain (or develop) that near perfect form.

I have worked out for years and still have a tendency to have a "sloppy" bench press form. So how does using more managable weight increase strength? Simple really...when you are not pushing 70 or 80 percent of your 1RM you can focus on technique, and by focusing on form and technique you are utilizing all those wonderful stabalizing muscles. The stronger your stabalizers and core become...the stronger you become with your bench!

So how does a strength building bench press transend into a mass building bench press. The more stable your form and the stronger you become the less likely you are to compromise your technique when it's time to start going really heavy to stimulate even more muscle growth, and this is exactly what we want isn't it? Getting bigger is the goal of most of us anyway, but strength building also serves another important function when you start to build mass, and that's injury prevention! Poor form will very simply f**ck you up if you mess with too much weight!

Using a lighter weight and lowering that weight slow and controlled then exploding up with your press gets you ready for the wonders of mass building benching!:p I'm talking about forced reps, drop sets, negatives, etc., all in the lower 5 to 6 rep range. In my opinion, I think a rep pattern of 8, 6, 4, 2, 1 (8 being your warmup) adding plates in a "reverse pyramid" (for lack of a better term) bench press workout is one of the best mass builders for myself at least. I have a close friend who, when he is on a serious mass building cycle, will do only 5 sets of 5 reps-very heavy negatives for his flat bench workouts.

So if you can decode all the rambling I've just done I hope you can read between the lines and understand the basic principles that seperates the two Bench Press "goals." Even a very experienced lifter, should probably alternate every 6 weeks or so...putting on mass tends to defocus for the core of the exercise, while strength training obviously will not yeild you the huge gains you will eventually want.

On an end note, I like to utalize benching for strength either off cycle or on a cutter, and I try to take advantage of the muscle building properties of AAS and focus on Mass benching while on a bulking cycle...yes I just stated the obvious, but I think you will all be ok!!! Thanks for your ears guys!
 
G

Greenmonster

Member
Sep 28, 2010
54
2
#2
I do the pyramid on my bench but I go up instead of down after warmups. I go 1,3,5,6,8. My reason being that I want to overload my muscles when they are fresh and ready to put out and then reduce weight and up reps to really burn the chest and stimulate fast twitch fibers. It works for me. Good read bro
 
PozzSka

PozzSka

Senior Member
Sep 15, 2010
189
0
#3
Your form should be an important part of the bench press regardless of weight. Setting up for the bench press is harder than the actual press. Your lats cramp, your glutes and hamstrings hurt, whether its the bar or a competition.

I'm not sure what your point is.
 
bigrobbie

bigrobbie

MuscleHead
Sep 19, 2010
526
150
#4
Your form should be an important part of the bench press regardless of weight. Setting up for the bench press is harder than the actual press. Your lats cramp, your glutes and hamstrings hurt, whether its the bar or a competition.

I'm not sure what your point is.
In what way is my point hard to determine? If you're going to make a statement like that I'd like you to explain how my point was lost on you!
 
Growinboy

Growinboy

MuscleHead
Sep 25, 2010
502
44
#5
The whole "toning" idea has been shown to be garbage time and time again... Your point is hard to determine in that varying sets and reps (along with an individuals genetics) is going to depend on said individual and how they vary them... There really isnt any "set" way of doing strength training or mass training... Modern day PLers know to vary their sets and reps, and BBers have been varying workouts to "keep the body guessing" for awhile now... As afar as form- mass or strength- you give a shit effort, youll get shit results...

Personally, I trained BBer style (hitting every single bodypart rying to develop proportion) for years and was still strong as fuck.. In the last year Ive switched to mainly power movements and gained strength AND SIZE! I had plateaued for awhile, but put on a solid 5-7 lbs in the last few months and Im as lean as ever, if not more so...
 
PozzSka

PozzSka

Senior Member
Sep 15, 2010
189
0
#6
In what way is my point hard to determine? If you're going to make a statement like that I'd like you to explain how my point was lost on you!
Was your only point to suggest that we should vary our reps/sets? That's all. If that's it, then I agree. No problem.
 
D

deadweight

MuscleHead
Sep 20, 2010
2,294
497
#7
ive allways swiched up power training back to strenght training...which is very important...You can be a big bencher but barely hit a number of reps with a repectable number such as 225 or 275....over two decades of swiching benching i have gained good power which as stuck good sitting around a 485 to 500lbs on the bench and hitting 225 for 50 reps and 275 for 30 and 315 for 20....its a blance that makes you a good bencher.plus you are building slow twich and fast twich muscle wile swiching up..which in return gives you blance.....dw
 
ajdos

ajdos

MuscleHead
Sep 8, 2010
2,282
386
#8
Biomechanics of each persons shoulder girdle make a huge difference here...some people are able to push heavy ass weights and still maximally employ the pecs, which if bodybuilding are the target muscle. For others doing this will be a shoulder press laying on their backs...thats why some thrive on bench and others like myself opt for heavy dumbells, which I can go balls heavy on and still get awesome chest development, the bench press (flat) is a popularized yet sometimes innefective exercise. Im always amused when someone asks me how much I bench and I reply "I dont" yet my chest development is good.
If you insist on using the barbell for chest development you will have to lighten it up a bit and make sure you keep your shoulders back, not rounded forward for extra push.
 
hugerobb

hugerobb

VIP Strength Advisor
Sep 15, 2010
2,027
56
#9
great post but for myself I do incline barbell press which I find works great for me but this is my opinion
 
Growinboy

Growinboy

MuscleHead
Sep 25, 2010
502
44
#10
Im with you Robb, most of my benching is done on the incline- easier on my shoulder for whatever reason and still keeps me strong on the flat come comp time...
 
Get Some

Get Some

MuscleHead
Sep 9, 2010
3,441
643
#11
Biomechanics of each persons shoulder girdle make a huge difference here...some people are able to push heavy ass weights and still maximally employ the pecs, which if bodybuilding are the target muscle. For others doing this will be a shoulder press laying on their backs...thats why some thrive on bench and others like myself opt for heavy dumbells, which I can go balls heavy on and still get awesome chest development, the bench press (flat) is a popularized yet sometimes innefective exercise. Im always amused when someone asks me how much I bench and I reply "I dont" yet my chest development is good.
If you insist on using the barbell for chest development you will have to lighten it up a bit and make sure you keep your shoulders back, not rounded forward for extra push.
AWESOME point AJ. For example (with a healthy shoulder) I could put up over 400 on flat bench (barbell) no problem. But, that didn't really do me any good as far as building my chest muscles. For me, I've gotta use lighter weights and do dumbbell flyes to really get my lower chest pumpin. I've got to make sure that my wrists keep the weight as straight as possible. If the wrists start to flare out, all the weight is lifted by the delts. My biggest problem is trying to take the delts out of the equation so I can get a proper chest workout. So that's what I'm working on currently. Decline presses seem to help me avoid using the delts as much (less pain on my shoulder too).
 
G

Greenmonster

Member
Sep 28, 2010
54
2
#12
One of the problems I see with some in the gym is that they set their grip too wide on BB bench. They will move the index finger well outside of the ring, and it will look like they are doing a v at the top of the rep. Then they wonder why their delts/tris are getting bigger, but not the chest. I put my pinky on the inside of the ring, and I have long arms to boot. It helps me take the shoulders out of the equation to a degree, and the tri's until halfway through the rep. It really works my chest a lot better. I switch up between BB and DB from week to week to keep my muscles guessing as well as varying reps from once to twice a month. Decline BB is becoming one of my favorite movements. I havent done it in a while, but it is really helping to fill out my lower pecs.
 
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