"Bench Press Strength Testing - Determining
"Sports Preparation: Conditioning,
Plyometrics, & Speed-agility"
- MAXIMAL BENCH PRESS STRENGTH TESTING
a Monday afternoon in your gym and chances are it is "chest"
day for everyone. Chest workouts are almost always done
at the beginning of the week and undoubtedly begin with
the bench press. The barbell bench press is the most commonly
used exercise to develop upper-body "pushing"
strength because it is a combination of shoulder extension,
elbow extension and horizontal adduction of the arm. The
exercise recruits the pectorals, deltoids, and triceps and
is excellent for bodybuilders and athletes involved in strength
and power sports.
you are interested in determining your maximal bench press
strength, the beginning of a new training cycle is an excellent
time to do so. Performance should be tested again at the
end of each training phase to gauge the effectiveness of
the program and tested at the start of the season and throughout
so that detraining can be avoided.
YOUR "MAX" BENCH PRESS
is one of the only instances in which resistance training
has a greater risk of injury than most other activities.
It is essential for the lifter to use the following preparation
and build-up to avoid injury.
go over the basic "barbell bench press":
lie on the bench with the feet flat on the floor and the
legs bent at 90 degrees
place your head directly under the racked bar
take an overhand grip ~4-6 inches wider than the shoulders
unrack the bar and slowly lower to mid-chest level keeping
the elbows directly out to sides throughout the movement
stop the bar above mid-chest and push the weight back up
to 96% full arm extension (do not "lock-out" the
elbows) with the back kept completely pressed against bench
To estimate what your 1 RM will be.
1 RM = the maximal amount of weight you can lift for 1 repetition
Begin the warm-up by choosing a weight that represents 50%
of the estimated 1 RM.
Complete 2 sets of 6 repetitions followed by 2-minute recovery
Perform light stretching for the pectoral muscles, the anterior
posterior deltoid, and the triceps.
The third warm-up set should be at 85% of the estimated
Complete only 1 repetition followed by 2-minute recovery
Attempt the estimated 1 RM.
It is important to be conservative in your 1 RM estimation
as it is less acurate
when moving down in weight in comparison to
increasing the weight in each
For each successful attempt at the 1 RM, provide a 2-minute
increase the weight by 2.5 to 5%.
If the initial 1 RM weight could not be pressed, allow a
2-minute recovery and
reduce the weight by the appropriate increment.
Allow only one additional attempt at a failed lift and no
bench press training requires safety precautions. When pressing
heavy, always use a spotter and remember to breathe out
when you push the weight up. Use a full range of motion
(bar touching chest) if your sport or daily function require
pressing strength throughout the entire possible range of
motion provided the range of motion is pain-free.
addition to strengthening the larger muscles contributing
to performance, a small amount of supplementary training
should be dedicated to the supporting muscles found in the
rotator cuff complex. Dr. Ken Kinakin suggests increasing
your grip strength to help increase performance in maximal
bench press efforts.
- SPORT PREP: SPEED-AGILITY, PLYOMETRICS, & CONDITIONING!
winter months are the appropriate time to develop general
strength and endurance capacities necessary for team sport
participation. However, the "pre-season" training
phase should be characterized by sport-specific strength
training exercises, speed & power development drills,
and game-specific metabolic conditioning.
important consideration for all programs and phases is an
initiation OR break-in period. Regardless of an individual's
off-season dedication to training, the addition of a new
exercise OR increase in intensity level brings an increased
risk of muscle soreness. There may also be a higher incidence
of injury in new programs should the trainee start at too
great of training volume OR intensity OR frequency.
good program outline is important, BUT/ often the break-in
period is ignored. It certainly would be a shame to develop
an acute OR chronic injury through sport-preparation training
when the one of the reasons to do these drills is injury
prevention! Let's outline a program with proper guidelines
to introduce our muscles to the new movements.
proper warm-up is essential. Never perform a workout of
high-intensity explosive activity without preparing your
muscles and connective tissues for the stresses of plyometrics
OR sprints. However, keep in mind the warm-up concept is
a little more advanced than just running in circles for
5 minutes to "work up a sweat".
warm-up must be SPECIFIC. Use the same movements in the
warm-up as you will in training, BUT/ just perform each
at a much slower speed and most importantly, maintain the
full "range of motion" of the movement. This warm-up
is referred to as dynamic flexibility.
workouts with a lot of lateral movements I put a great emphasis
on lateral movements in the warm-up to ready the groin area
(adductor muscles). As well, all speed drills are going
to place great stress on the hip flexors, therefore I like
to have clients perform the high knee drill OR skipping
exercises to increase blood flow and muscle elasticity in
continuous movement of a warm-up should be close to 10-minutes
because anything less is insufficient preparation for explosive
training. Speed and plyometric drills are performed at maximal
intensity and therefore "general" preparation
is inadequate and in fact is bordering on negligence. By
the end of the warm-up period all the muscles that will
be called upon in the training drills should now have been
prepared for an increase in intensity of contraction.
last component prior to performance is some pre-exercise
flexibility for injury prevention. The muscles are warm
and compliant to stretch at this time. The pre-exercise
stretching component does not need to last more than 2-
to 3-minutes. Stretching at this time is used only to further
prepare the muscles and connective tissue for violent contractions
but not to increase flexibility. Flexibility improvement
is best addressed at the end of a workout.
stretching component should address areas of high-injury
risk, such as the groin, Achilles tendon, hip flexors, and
hamstrings. Perform moderate intensity stretches for 5-15
seconds for each muscle group. That is an effective "dynamic
flexibility" warm-up to provide an excellent preparation
for speed and power practice.
the speed session with resisted running drills such as hill-sprints
(after warm-up). The warm-up philosophy is maintained because
the first sprint is performed at only 75% intensity. The
length of the sprint should be 5 to 10 seconds and proper
running form should be adhered to for the entire sprint.
Perform a set of 3 sprints with 1-minute of rest between
sprints. Later in the pre-season you can use up to 10 resisted
sprints. Make sure to be fully recovered before the next
sprint. A drill must be stopped as soon as proper technique
the orientation sessions only 2 drills and 2 repetitions
of each will be performed. The length of each drill should
be no more than 10 seconds and recovery should be complete
(greater than 1 minute) before the next repetition. See
ISSUE #21 for some suggested agility drills.
the initial training sessions only 1-2 exercises will be
performed. Choose 2 drills (again check out ISSUE #21) and
aim for 8-10 repetitions. Plyometrics are likely to cause
muscle soreness the day after due to the eccentric component
and force absorption of the landing phase. For this reason,
limit the number of repetitions performed.
baseball the sprints will be very short (5-10 seconds) with
long rest intervals (60 seconds). For soccer and rugby the
sprints will be longer (30-60 seconds) and the rest intervals
will be RELATIVELY shorter (90-120 seconds). Start with
2-3 sprints in the first workout and progress to a maximum
of 8 as conditioning improves.
workouts are fun and sport-specific. But they will definitely
cause soreness after the first few workouts, so go easy
on the volume in the initial sessions, especially with any