Written by Greg Panora
I’ve always been a decent bencher. It came naturally to me and I’ve always enjoyed the attention it brings. I met a guy at the grocery store last week who used to have a 650 raw bench, but his biceps were getting to big, and he had to quit. Despite every asshole making crazy claims, benching has always been a huge part of why I love this sport. I benched 435 at 218 pounds at my first contest in 1999 and my training hasn’t really changed much since.
The exercise that has been a constant in my training is the floor press. It is beautiful in its simplicity and it’s effectiveness. It taught me how to take the bench away from my pecs and put it in my triceps. I feel like it is much easier to load your triceps when lying on the floor. At Westside I would do these every fourth week as a max effort exercise and I felt like it had the most carryover to my shirted bench. I remember doing 525 four weeks before my first 800 bench and 545 four weeks before my first 820 bench. I very rarely had to put a shirt on to know what my shirted bench would be.
Today, my training is entirely raw, yet the floor press is still a mainstay. In fact, I’m finishing up a three week wave with it tomorrow. Week 1 did a triple with 450. This was done with pinkies an inch inside the rings, week 2 I did a double with 470, and tomorrow I will go over 500 for a single. So, during my raw training I use these for reps as well as max singles and occasionally for speed work.
One big hint I will also give to lifters is to train like a bodybuilder on accessory work. Benching is done with little fragile muscles that aren’t getting work without these semi pansy movements like skull crushers, lateral raises, dumbbell presses, pressdowns, and pulls to the face. These will up your bench, cut down injuries and make you look way better in shirtless Facebook mirror photos.