Powerlifting

How I Built My Best Bench Ever-Rack Lockouts


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When I first began lifting – in high school for football, like a lot of people, the bench press became my best lift. I wanted that big bench and big arms so I could push guys around and look good doing it. I had a good bench when I graduated high school in 2006 at 405 (raw) but saw that stagnate through college. Tearing both shoulder labrums during college football didn’t help my bench progress either but when I met Dan Gaudreau at Rocky Mountain Lifting Club in Colorado things started changing. Dan is a multi-time IPF World Bench Press Champion and Record Holder and he began having me do rack lockouts once a week.

The rack lockouts were done in a power rack by setting the safety pins anywhere from 4” to 1” of lockout. You simply locked the weight out off the pins, set down, released the tension, and repeated. This was a fun exercise to do because you could really move some weight. Although the time under tension and range of motion is not great, the rack lockouts greatly improved my bench by forcing my body to adapt to handling heavier loads. It’s like the old-school trick of overloading some of us did back in high school or college. Before a max lift, throw an extra weight on each side, hold it for a few seconds, and immediately take off the extra plate and BAM it feels so much lighter and you throw it up. Except by doing rack lockouts you get a more permanent affect. Doing this for the first year I met Dan took my bench from mid to low 400’s to over 500. Sets and reps are not complicated because it is not a big deal if you fail, you probably just won’t press it off the pins. Due to this likely being something new you haven’t tried and working off a neurological gain than strength, you can expect to see its results quicker. Here is an 8-week cycle I have used and seen gains on – do this as your first accessory lift after your bench press.

Week – Reps left in the tank for every set – Reps

1 – 3 – 8, 8, 8

2 – 3 – 6, 6, 6

3 – 3 – 8, 6, 4

4 – 5 – 5, 5, 5

5 – 2 – 5, 5, 5

6 – 2 – 5, 3, 1

7 – 1 – 1, 1, 1

8 – 0 – 1

Blaine Sumner is a drug-free powerlifter who competes in the IPF and USAPL both raw and single ply. He holds the IPF Raw World Record for Squat (881 no wraps) and Total (2,056) in addition to winning the 2012 IPF Raw World Championship. Sumner played Division II football at the Colorado School of Mines where he started at nose tackle for 4 years in addition to scoring 8 touchdowns as a short yardage fullback. He also set NFL testing records for 225 bench reps (52) and Kirwan Explosive Index (95). In addition to having a 33” Vertical Jump and 50” box jump at 350 lbs., Sumner was a 4 sport athlete in high school (Football, Wrestling, Lacrosse, Track). He is originally from Colorado and now lives in Oklahoma City where he trains at HATE Barbell and works as a Petroleum Engineer.
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