Big-Time Bench

You probably think the key to a big bench is your chest. But you’d be wrong. It’s your triceps—at least if you ask anyone at Westside Barbell in Columbus, Ohio. It’s home to 23 guys who can bench press more than 600 pounds—including me. (So it’s not always safe to argue.) The question is, Are you willing to change what you’re doing for a bigger bench? If so, you found the right plan. Follow the directions for each of the four workouts on the accompanying pages, and use the guidelines below when doing any bench-press movement (for instance, the barbell bench press, the floor press, and the close-grip bench press). After four weeks, you’ll crush your old record in the bench—guaranteed.

Rules of the Bench
1. Keep your elbows tucked as close to your sides as possible. It changes the focus of the move from your chest to your triceps, which allows you to generate more force.

2. Push the bar straight up from your lower chest, instead of back toward your head, as most guys do naturally. It minimizes the distance you have to press the weight.

3. Squeeze the bar as tightly as you can. This “tightens” your entire body, which increases the weight you can lift, improves your form, and reduces your risk of injuries.

4. Pull your shoulder blades together before you lift—pretend you’re squeezing a pencil between them—and hold them that way for the entire lift. It creates a strong foundation, which allows you to apply greater force to the bar.

5. Use your legs. When the bar touches your chest, press your feet into the floor and “squat” the weight up—without lifting your butt or hips off the bench. This alone can add 30 pounds to your bench press.

The Workouts
You’ll do a “speed” bench-press workout, followed by a full upper-body session.

This workout hits your lower body and the core muscles of your midsection.

You’ll start with a max floor press for triceps strength, then hit your chest, shoulders, and back.

In this session, you’ll hit your quads, hamstrings, abs, and lower back.

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