How I Built My Best Bench Ever: Board Presses

By Eric Lilliebridge | In Bench | on March 18, 2013

Benching has always been the harder lift for me to make gains on out of the 3 main power lifts. I’ve tried changing up my grips for multiple training cycles, I’ve tried out bands before and a lot of different accessory work to try and make my bench go up and get stronger. But over the past couple of years there’s only been one accessory lift that’s actually helped my bench out a lot and has helped give me noticeable gains, and for me that has been doing board work to overload on my heavy days. I mainly only do board work when I’m training and prepping for a competition because that’s the only time I ever really push my bench the hardest is when training for a meet.

The way I incorporate board work into my training is I simply just do them at the very end of my heavy bench workout. On my heavy days for meet training I always do 3 sets of a single pauses just like you would do in a meet, and I pyramid up each heavy workout in weight on each one of the sets until the last couple weeks before the meet. Right after I get done doing my paused singles, I do two sets of board work. For the first couple heavy workouts when I start my training cycle, I’ll do the first set of board work to a 1 board and the 2nd set to a 2 board. Then the last couple workouts I’ll change it up a little and start doing my first set of board work to a 2 board and the last set of board work to a 3 board to really focus on getting my lock out strong and overloading with heavier weight than I can do full range.

Check out this video of Eric working up to 550×1 in the gym and then doing some board presses after…

I do the same thing with boards as I do for my paused singles, I pyramid up each heavy workout on both board work sets just adding a little more weight each workout. Typically I like to train just singles on the board work to really focus on the rep controlling and feeling the weight, but sometimes I will do doubles or triples if I’m feeling stronger than normal by the end of the workout. It really just depends on how I’m feeling at the end. But for the most part I like to practice single reps on the board work.

By meet day my bench feels the best it has all training cycle and I feel strong from the moment I get the press command all the way to finish. In my opinion, board work is something very simple and effective that you can add into your heavy days to overload and get your bench stronger, plus it allows you to handle and get a feel for heavier weight beyond your one rep max. It has worked great for me and has helped get me to a 529lb raw competition bench and a 550lb raw paused bench in the gym at 275lbs, so if you don’t do them now, definitely give them a try and see how well the work for you.

Eric Lilliebridge had a top #3 raw total ranking in world in the 275 weight class at just 19 years old. He had successfully totaled 2,065lbs raw in belt and knee wraps and deadlifted 800lbs raw in competition at only 19 years old. Now being the age of 22, he is currently ranked #2 in the world in the 275’s with a 2,204lbs raw total w/ wraps. His best competition lifts up to date are an 881lbs raw squat w/ wraps (World Record at 275s), 529lbs raw bench and an 821lbs raw deadlift. He is currently chasing after the all time world record total in the 275’s held by Jon Cole with a 2,259lbs raw total w/ wraps.
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