Let’s face it, in need of a being struggle hero, there’s nothing extra manly to the common man than lifting heavy weights. Well, perhaps lifting heavy weights whereas well-bearded and ingesting whiskey — however you’d should ask veteran powerlifter and world-record holder Chris Duffin about how he pulls that off.

When it involves lifting heavy there are actually solely three lifts that depend to most power purists: the bench press, the squat, and the deadlift (sorry to all of the leg press and wrist curl champs on the market, however these simply do not lower it). These three lifts additionally comprise the game of powerlifting in its entirety.

And these three strikes is precisely what we’ll be specializing in for the subsequent few week. But first the bench press and for some added experience, we’re turning to the present strongest 220-pound powerlifting champ, who additionally has the best whole poundage lifted ever at his weight, Kevin Oak.

Kevin boasts a 518-pound bench press, an 843-pound squat, and a 766-pound deadlift. (Yes, he bench presses greater than most individuals deadlift.) But clearly, Kevin wasn’t all the time one of many world’s strongest males. In truth, you have been extra more likely to discover him on a observe working and, just some years again, at a Wall Street buying and selling desk.

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After attending Villanova on a observe scholarship, Kevin traded in working for, effectively, buying and selling. After being observed within the gymnasium for a way a lot weight he was tossing round, Kevin determined to enter a strongman competitors in 2013. It didn’t go effectively. “I got my ass kicked, really bad.” Undeterred, Kevin entered his first powerlifting competition later that year, in which he again “didn’t do that well.” But he was hooked.

He competed in his second powerlifting competitors only a month later, and inside three years managed to turn into the strongest powerlifter in his weight class and later a world file holder as effectively. Kevin now makes use of his data and expertise to educate lifters of each selection to dominate like he does on the platform.

Here’s Kevin’s tips on constructing The Ultimate Bench Press:

1. Focus on Technique

The bench press is a extremely technical elevate if you wish to actually add poundage. If you are simply barely out of the proper groove, it can’t solely value you a missed elevate, however an harm as effectively. Kevin’s three huge tips about method are:

A. Keep the higher arms at round a 45-degree angle to the torso. This is an optimum place to get the lats, a stabilizing muscle within the bench, to do their job and take the stress off of the shoulder. The “bodybuilder-style” bench press, with the arms at near 90 levels to the torso locations an excessive amount of stress on the shoulder and doesn’t incorporate the lats.

B. Arch, however do not over-arch. A again flat on the bench won’t ever enable the shoulder to maneuver the burden optimally, so that you wish to have an arch in your decrease again. That mentioned, the arch should not be large enough to throw a basketball via. Keep the arch to the purpose the place you’re feeling steady and never hyper-extended. (For an awesome instance of what to not do, simply hit Instagram and discover a couple of “#belfies.”)

C. Get as tight as potential. While the arms are shifting the bar within the bench press, the torso and legs are offering the steadiness wanted to drive essentially the most weight potential up. Just take into consideration pushing somebody standing on one leg versus two. Stability pays off big-time in power and energy manufacturing. The entire physique ought to be flexing onerous, from the ft via the legs to the torso, to optimize stability. A “loose” bench is a weak bench. No matter how heavy the burden, nor how good the music is within the background, your ft ought to neither be “Whipping,” nor “Nae-Naeing,” whereas benching. 

2. Size Matters

As vital as method and repetitious apply are, many lifters spend manner an excessive amount of time on method and/or “maxing out.” All they do is bench, and fairly often attempt to bench essentially the most they presumably can for a single rep. Kevin attributes lots of his success to specializing in muscular improvement (hypertrophy) first, then with this “base,” turning his focus to maximal power. Varying urgent workout routines — like utilizing the incline bench, and different strikes — and specializing in particular person muscle tissues like pecs, triceps and delts, the first muscle tissues utilized in a bench press, can’t be uncared for. While method ought to be executed like a powerlifter, coaching for dimension ought to be executed way more like a bodybuilder (i.e. lighter weights with extra units and reps and, in fact, carrying Zubaz pants).

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3. Use These Bench Press Variations

While everyone seems to be totally different, Kevin believes a very powerful strikes for his bench are three bench press variations and three “assistance” strikes:

Floor Press

Set a bar on pins just under hip top. Unrack the bar and decrease the bar slowly down till the elbows relaxation on the ground. Pause, then forcibly drive the bar again up. Kevin credit this train as the largest contributor to his bench press: “It teaches you to stay tight the whole time and to maintain control.”

Feet-Up Bench Press


Set up as you’ll for an everyday bench press, nonetheless choose your ft up off the ground, flex your hips to 90 levels, and cross one ankle over the opposite. Bench as prescribed above utilizing Kevin’s methods. “You don’t get stability from the ground so this really forces you to use your core and feel your pecs working,” Kevin defined.

Spoto Press


For this train, you’ll arrange precisely as you’ll for a standard bench press, and the method will probably be practically similar — aside from one small element: don’t contact the bar to your chest. As you unravel the motion cease the bar an inch or two off your chest, pause, then forcibly press the bar again up. Kevin says that is one among his “favorite exercises for building tension in the bench press.”

A standard theme in Kevin’s favourite bench press variations is that all of them encourage pressure, tightness, and stability. You would possibly wish to encourage your buddy who makes use of his chest as a trampoline for the bar to learn this text, as a result of, you realize, Kevin could also be onto one thing.

In phrases of “assistance” workout routines, which means workout routines that aren’t bench press derivatives, however develop muscle tissues that help or instantly contribute to the bench press, listed here are a couple of of Kevin’s favorites.

Arnold Press


Hold a pair of dumbbells whereas standing and lift them to what would appear to be the highest place of a biceps curl, with palms going through in in direction of your physique. Begin to press the dumbbells overhead, and whereas doing so, rotate the palms to face away from you. Lower by reversing the sequence. Kevin extremely recommends growing the shoulder for the bench press, however “because we spend so much time with a barbell in our hands, it’s good for the joints to use dumbbells on assistance work.” (And sure, the Arnold Press is known as after that Arnold.)

Standing Dumbbell Triceps Extensions


While standing, maintain a pair of dumbbells straight overhead, with palms going through one another. Slowly decrease the dumbbells till you’re feeling a stretch in your triceps. Forcibly reverse the stretch by contracting the triceps as onerous as potential, returning the dumbbells to the beginning place. Kevin loves this transfer as a result of “stretch it builds in the muscle” which is nice for each a bodybuilding (muscle dimension) and bench efficiency standpoint.

Supine Cable Biceps Curl


Set a bench near a twin pulley cable station. Set the pulleys all the way in which to the underside. Grab the handles and lay again on the bench with palms going through down. Begin to curve the weights up, whereas rotating the palm 180 levels till it going through in in direction of the physique on the high of the motion. Return to the beginning place by reversing the motion. “I love the constant tension cables provide for muscle growth. The biceps are important to the bench, particularly in the lowering phase of the lift.”

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