Written by Matt Vincent
Bench is one of the most common exercises used in every gym in the world. Top end athletes, to the lowly Johnny Bravo shaped Mutants asking “How much you bench, BRO?”, everyone benches. I pretty much expect that if you lift, you probably bench. It is a great lift and one of the big 6(squat, deadlift, overhead pressing, bench, clean, and sntach.) that all athletes should be doing regularly. As a thrower it is an important lift for me in making the gains on the field that I want to see.
My first bit of advice is learning how to do it correctly. There is plenty of advice on this, Brandon Lilly has a great article covering it. This is the one big thing I took from my time with Powerlifting was learning proper form and how to lift bigger weights safely. Now I do not think that a big bench alone is going to translate into monster throws. However it is not just perchance that most of the guys who can throw over 70’ in the shotput in history also bench 500+lbs. I feel the same about this as I do combine training. Do I think the numbers put up at the combine prove you are a good football player? No, however it seems that good football players can do really well at all of those tests. So in short if you are throwing and technically things are pretty sound. Then you need to get stronger and there is, no way to think that building a bigger bench is not going to improve your marks.
Benching is going to strengthen chest, upper back, triceps, delts, and the entire shoulder girdle. All of this is needed to throw far. Also when done correctly using leg drive, not throwing your ass in the air and bouncing the weight off your chest, you are performing full body lift. Doing this teaches your body to make connections from head to toe and will make you better and being able to apply that to your throws. The ability to transfer power from your feet, through the ground, and into your hands is the name of the game for throwing. The better and faster you can do this the better you will throw.
Training it properly for throwing is going to need to focus on both max effort and power. Power is the speed at which work is performed. So think about this as how fast you can move the bar. This acceleration is the key for throwing. Sure having that hydraulic strength to move a ton of weight slow is great, but will not get the implement to go any farther. Training for speed is the key here and if throwing far or becoming more of an explosive athlete like a line man or weightlifter this is where you can separate yourself. Training speed and power is a bit different. Taking some lighter weights (nothing over 75%) and more sets of lower reps, and moving the bar as fast as possible is the Key to developing this.
Basic Bench Speed Block:
|12 x 3||60%|
|10 x 3||65%|
|8 x 2||70%|
|6 x 1||75%|
|Deload 3 x 10||50%|
I can’t stress enough for this to work properly you need to MOVE THE WEIGHT AS FAST AS POSSIBLE. Keep pushing all the way through the end of the lift. As far as your accessories for this I use dips and Heavy single arm rows (Krock Rows). I use a plate loading dumbbell and load about 235 on it (80% of BW or heaviest you can do). 3 x 10 on all accessories still push speed. Also keep the rest in between these sets minimal 60-90 sec. This is going to build that fast twitch fiber you need as an athlete. Also a great accessory is using something like the Sling Shot and doing some accommodating resistance work. To do that I use it after my last set and go for max reps at that days Rx’d weight.
Most people will have a hard time taking a step back from heavy lifting to work on this. Think about it like if you could move 225 at 1.5 ft/per second then now can mover 225 at 3.0 ft/per second then you are stronger and faster. This acceleration will transfer into your max lifting as well.
I rotate this training with heavy blocks throughout the course of my season. This gives me different loads and goals for training blocks. Also I have continued making steady gains and throwing PRs all year. Train for some speed and make some gains. Get Stronger, Throw Farther, and HVIII more!!!
For more info on how I train check out Training LAB and Throwing LAB both available at JTSstrength.com and www.Mattvincent.netMatt Vincent is a top Professional Highland Games World Champion. Matt has spent the last 15 years strength training with a focus on functional strength for athletics. Track and Field for LSU as a shotput, discus, and hammer thrower, two top 3 finishes in SEC and two top 5 Regional finishes in Discus. In the last 6 years he as traveled all over country and trained with many of the top coaches and athletes in various fields form Weightlifting, Strongman, Powerlifting (both Geared and Raw) and now focus on Highland Games. Matt also has competed in all of these different disciplines to make sure he has a 1st hand knowledge of training and competing. With success as a top AM Strongman qualified for nationals 3 times. Powerlifting numbers of (875-700-700 in APF @275) and (675-425-665 @ 275 RAW). Weightlifting numbers of (319 Snatch and 400 Clean and Jerk @ 105+). Highland Games he won 3 AM World Championships and 1 Professional World Championship as my first year Pro. Matt is also the Author of Best Selling Highland Games Training Manual for Developing Max Strength and Power: Training LAB. Website, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter