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Kevin Nason is one of the top Mash Mafia Powerlifters. He is a 700+ squatter, 500+ bencher, and a 650+ Deadlifter, and these are of course raw numbers. Kevin competes drug free, and he manages to work full-time. This man is a wealth of knowledge, so I suggest listening to him. Now enjoy Kevin’s first article:
“How Much Do You Bench” by Kevin Nason
Let’s face it, in the common lifting world the king of workouts is the bench press. In every gym you always hear the same question, “How much do you bench?” The bench press is that one exercise that most people use to boost their strength to become the big dog for the day. If you think about it, this lift is generally most people’s best lift and is the lift that everyone enjoys and loves to train. If you’re interested in increasing your strength and want to get that big bench press, here are five tips I can share that I have learned along the way.
Tip Number One: Down sets are key for your bench!
Down sets on the bench are where you are going to get the work in. This is where strength will be gained. The volume is where you will get the growth and endurance to be able to push the big weights down the road. I personally like to do two down sets at 15% less than my top work set for reps between 5 to 10. Then I do 25 to 30 percent less than my top work set on my second down set. I also love to pause these to build that explosive power in the bottom position.
Tip Number Two: Train your triceps to be strong!
Your triceps do all the pushing. They are the muscles that finish the movement. You have to have strong triceps for the lockout. Think about it. Most people miss the weight at the top end. This is because their triceps are weak. Most people train their triceps like bodybuilders, with high reps to gain the mass. This will look cool, but we want the workout to produce. If you want to have a big bench, you must train them for the movement with moderate reps. Do reps of 3 – 8 for four sets. Add one for a down set of 10 at 20% less of your top set. Do workouts such as close grips and skull crushers if your elbows can handle it. I also recommend working out with tricep pushdowns and JM presses.
Tip Number Three: You must have healthy shoulders!
Yes, having strong shoulders is good for the bench. However strong shoulders don’t do you any good if you keep having shoulder issues. One thing I’ve learned over the years is shoulder injuries are very common in strength sports. Your shoulders take a beating when handling the heavy weight from benching and squatting, so you have to keep them healthy. To prevent nagging shoulder injuries warm them up before each training session and keep them flexible. I like doing YTWLs for 10 reps for 2-3 sets with 5-15 lbs. dumbbells, pull aparts with bands for 15-25 reps for 2 to 3 sets, and front and lateral raises 10 reps for 3 sets with 5-10 lbs. plates or dumbbells. Stretch your shoulders before each training session. Also, use bands to get that extra pull on your shoulders that you can’t do yourself.
Tip Number Four: Don’t forget big back, strong Lats!
A lot of people think your back doesn’t play a major role in the bench. However, if you want to hit the big numbers, your back is crucial.
What supports the weight and gives that explosive power out of the hole? It’s not just your chest. It’s your back. Having a strong back enables you to handle heavy weight much better. By squeezing the lats you get that little spring needed to get out of the hole for that PR you were looking for. Of course the King workout for this is deadlifts, but there are some other exercises to think about doing. Try barbell rows for reps of 5 to 10 for sets of 4- 5. Increase the weight each set, but also do the same with front lat pull downs, dumbbell rows, and pull ups for AMRAP. Remember to try to mimic the bench press on your assistance exercises.
Tip Number Five: The Turtle always wins the race!
Remember that strength is a progression; you don’t have to be strong right now. Strength is not created overnight. It takes practice to get where you want to be. By doing the right things (eating properly, resting when appropriate, and training smart) you will improve and see the fruits of your labor. As the years go by, your technique will improve, your body will mature, and your training will be more efficient. Strength sports are a marathon and not a sprint, so just be patient. Remember to always stay hungry, be humble, and always be the hardest worker in the room.
Put God first and the rest will fall into place,
Follow Kevin on Instagram: @knae55