5 Best Bench Press Variations
The bench press in its commonplace kind is enjoyable whereas it lasts, however repeating the identical model of the elevate from week to week could be monotonous. It may also stymie your good points, or at the least decelerate your fee of change.
We all know the usual execution of a correct bench press (if not, try this step-by-step explainer), and it’s a very good train. But after some time, you’ll want to combine it up with totally different loading methods, rep schemes, and modalities to maintain stimulating your muscle tissue and construct energy. The bench press variations beneath are nice methods to shake up your typical bench routine.
The Best Bench Press Variations to Spice Up Your Lifting Routine
1. 1.5-Rep Bench Press
For this, you’ll nonetheless want a typical barbell bench press setup. Either use a bench press rack or create one by sliding a bench and security latches to the suitable locations in a squat cage. To carry out a 1.5-rep bench press, unrack the load and decrease it to the chest in a managed movement. Pause for half a second, after which transfer the barbell up, stopping midway between a completely lowered place and an arms-extended place (the highest of a typical bench press). Hold that midway place for a second. Next, decrease the bar to the chest, pause, after which increase the bar to a full extension. All of that’s 1 rep.
Focusing on units of three to 5 reps utilizing this model is right. Remember, the time spent underneath rigidity for every rep is for much longer than commonplace bench press.
The 1.5-rep bench press works nicely for chest hypertrophy and energy as a result of the half-rep parts of the elevate double the chest stimulation earlier than the triceps absolutely enter the motion. From a mechanical perspective, it’s the right option to actually focus the bench press on the chest muscle tissue.
2. Paused Reps
Pausing mid-rep makes a typical bench press way more trustworthy. The how-to is easy: Lower the load to the chest underneath management, after which merely freeze for two to three seconds on the chest. While doing so, make sure you stay tight, and don’t permit your chest to sink in towards the bench whereas paused.
Pausing removes the stretch reflex that the majority lifters use to assist “sling” the load up out of the underside place of the bench press rep. Removing it kills any momentum and makes every elevate occur from absolute zero.
For paused reps of any type, make sure you scale back the load accordingly. Your 5-rep max with regular weight received’t be your paused 5RM. Reduce the load by 15 to twenty % and deal with managing proper technique.
3. Pin Press
The pin press isn’t only a depraved energy builder, it’s additionally a really sensible option to shield your shoulders. That’s particularly essential in case you have a historical past of shoulder harm (this transfer can also be useful in case you have lengthy arms). In a pin press, the barbell will get blocked by security latches (pins) earlier than it reaches chest stage, so the shoulders are spared from a weak backside place deep within the gap.
Place a bench in a squat cage and set the security latches about 3 to 5 inches above the extent of your chest. Place the bar on the latches and slide into place underneath the bar so it’s positioned over your nipple line. Draw the shoulder blades collectively, grip the bar, and drive it as much as full extension. Hold on the prime for a 1-second depend. Lower the bar again to the pins, and let it settle earlier than commencing the following rep. Pause one other second and repeat. Use units of three to six reps for elevated energy.
4. Cluster Sets
Clusters are a good way to squeeze extra work out of your muscle tissue with heavy weight. The science behind this variation is easy. Taking a small break halfway by a heavy set permits your vitality shops to partially rejuvenate themselves. That offers your muscle tissue simply sufficient juice to squeeze out an additional rep or two.
To do them, load the barbell to your 5-rep max weight. Perform 4 reps earlier than racking the bar. Rest for 15 seconds, take the load again off the rack, and carry out 2 extra reps to finish a set. You’ve simply carried out 6 reps together with your 5-rep max. Be positive to relaxation nicely between units—2 minutes at a minimal. Do 4 cluster units complete.
5. Cable Bench Press
Switching to cables in a cable rack as an alternative of a barbell bench press creates a flurry of advantages relating to hypertrophy. First, cables pressure either side of your physique to work individually. This creates a really totally different demand on stability for every shoulder and in addition makes every pectoral muscle accountable for its personal load. Second, the course of pressure is totally different with cables than with a barbell, which could be useful. In most cable stations, the pulleys will likely be set out a lot wider than a lifter’s shoulder width. That angle aligns higher with the precise course the pectoral muscle fibers journey—the pec’s function is to adduct the higher arm (or pull it inward towards the physique). Doing a bench press with cables combines a typical press sample with a flye sample due to the fixed inward rigidity you’ll have to use all through every rep.
There are few simpler coaching choices for chest hypertrophy than utilizing a pair of cables. Combine this transfer with decrease relaxation intervals (or create a superset or compound set with one other press sample, like pushups) and you’ve got a surefire recipe for constructing muscle. Keep reps a bit greater right here; units of 12 to fifteen reps will elicit an superior pump.
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