The Bench Press Part 3: Bench Press Specialization Exercises

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Old School Iron, Looking Back to Move Forward

Here in Part 3, we are going to focus our attention on exercises to develop the strength aspect of the drive from the chest.  

Isometric Bench Press, Bottom Position

Popularized by Bob Hoffman, this exercise is well suited to the development of strength in the lower portion of the bench press. Place the bar so that it rests firmly against your chest when hitting the safety pins positioned just an inch or so above, slowly increasing your pressure on the bar until you are exerting maximum effort. During this exercise, multiple short breaths would serve you well. Don’t push at maximum effort for more than 10 seconds. One set/rep per training session is sufficient as you are introducing isometrics into your program.

Drives (Starts) From the Chest

Bob Hoffman used to refer to these types of exercises as “tonics.” Paul Anderson referenced these in many routines as well.  Extremely effective for strength building. Have your training partner place a weight on your chest (this can also be done by yourself using a power rack) which is heavier than you can lift to lockout. Drive the weight off your chest several times, attempting each time to drive it off as far as you can (be sure to maintain your normal bench pressing position on the bench. One or two sets of this exercise after your regular bench press routine will be more than enough to start seeing the benefits.

Long Pause Bench Presses

This exercise is done by pausing with the bar on your chest anywhere from 2 to 30 seconds before you press to the top of the lift. Not only will this practice serve to strengthen the beginning portion of the bench press, but it will also benefit a competitive lifter for contest lifts.  The time a referee can make you pause on your chest can vary. 

These three exercises have stood the test of time.  If you are looking to boost your bench performance look to the Legends of the Iron to guide you!

Robert C Jacobs
USAW, PICP, MA

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