My name is Ben Tatar; I have been helping Critical Bench out for the past
few years. I have been published in Monster Muscle Magazine, I have articles
over Critical Bench such as Simplifying the Bench Press, 22 Steps To A
Bigger Bench Press and Get on the Fast Track to a Powerful Bench Press. I
have done many interviews with great powerlifters, champion benchers,
bodybuilders and some fitness models. I have been published in Iron Man Magazine, including an interview with the legend Dave Draper in the May 2004 issue. I would also like all of you to check out my new EBOOK, it's called Train to Gain. There is no charge. You can find links to all of these
on this page ..www.criticalbench.com/training.htm.
ANY COMMENTS ABOUT GOING THROUGH YOUR BENCH PRESS JOURNEY BENCHING 135, 225,
315, 405, 500, 585?
45lbs- When I first started benching back as a freshman in high school I was
5'1 and 98lbs! I was scared to bench the bar so I used the Nautilus bench
press machine with only 60lbs and couldn't bench it once! I felt like crap
that day! However back in those days they kept saying "safety matters most
and when you bench you need 3 spotters at all times" so I decided to go to
the flat bench and I did 75lbs for 16 reps all forced with 3 spotters. I
could box squat 200 and deadlift 185 but couldn't bench anything. I was a
clown. I would go in the weight room of my high school and put on porno's in
the video room where football players would watch tapes of their games.
Everyone would laugh! I would do anything for a laugh back then but it got
me in trouble.
135- when I was in 10th grade I grew to 5'10 135lbs, and I was benching
130lbs. I went to the YMCA to max out one day and I got 130lbs and kept
coming close with 135lbs! I am mostly an ecto and have a fast metabolism so it is hard to
gain weight but I gained to about 200lbs, eating tons of ice cream and drinking tons
of soda! If you do this all day you will gain no matter how fast your
metabolism is! In my basement when I was training all I would do is bench
max...I would go downstairs without a spotter and load the bar to 160lbs- It
was either DO or DIE. The weight would get stuck on my neck but then I would
tip it to the side. I thought I was something when I was first benching 135.
I benched 135 for 5 reps quickly after- The initial gains finally started to happen even though I was training the wrong way- I was a kid who was still growing and that is like being on steroids alone. I would have gained no matter what.
225lbs- I thought 225 was an amazing bench and a bench only I could ever dream of having! I hit a plateau there for a long time (wondering why I wasn't as strong as I looked.) Then I found the secret- Stop dreaming, become a monster, train with Low reps, Heavier weights, stop doing endless machine exercises, get aggressive and power eat! After that, my benching just took off! During that year I did a strongman competition and saw what a bench meet was like. I felt like I was on a whole different planet being surrounded by crazy lights, loud music and guys that looked larger than life. There were normal people benching 400s and then the monsters hitting 600 or 700lbs- it was scary seeing them all in one place! I trained with great benchers and a coach where I learned about chains, boards, bands, rack lockouts and what it took to get a bigger bench press.
315lbs- for a while I was just doing rack lockouts and even though my
lockout was getting better my bench press wasn't. My big mistake was I was
neglecting back training. Once I started to train my back hard I was ready
to try 300. The first attempt I missed by an inch and then I tried it again
and got it. Back when I was a young kid the 300lbs bench barrier was my
lifetime dream and I was only 20 and I achieved it. A week later after
running 2 miles and doing lots of reps/sets I managed to put up 305. A few
weeks later, it was time for 315 but I was all pumped up and decided to go
for 320 instead of 315. I then nailed the big 320. I was 2 board
405- I benched 405 off my chest doing a reverse band press. The bands aid the weight from the start of the lift but then they assist less- so it's all you at the finish. Hitting 405 was a great feeling and it reminded me I was an extreme lifter to put myself under weights like that. (My best reverse band press is 425x5 and 475x1 currently.) I also have benched 405 raw off my chest using the bungee bands with 315-bar weight.
500- I have never done 500 yet. My current bench press goal is to bench
500lbs@181 with either a bench press shirt or with the reverse band press. I think I could do 500@165 and get past 600 or even 700 in the future if I want it bad enough. I am currently in the high 400s. The bench press to me isn't just the RAW bench, but you have your close grip, with boards, floor presses and all types of wild exercises. It is all part of the bench press lifestyle and rack lockouts were another way of TESTING me for a personal record. .
585- I hit 585-rack lockout recently. My best lockout to date @181 is 655.
Extreme weights have been locked out, I heard that Ryan Kennelly did
1000lbs easily- He could have done more-. Rack lockouts have a point and you can
read more about these and other training information/methods in the
When I went through my bench press journey not only did it make me stronger
physically but also it made me overcome all sorts of adversities in my life. I
was able to see weight lifting as this discipline tool and was able to apply
all the great positive attitudes I learned from training into many other
aspects of my life. I basically went from someone who just loved conflict to
someone who just likes excellence and as a result I have been able to enjoy
life much more.
WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE MOMENT IN WEIGHT LIFTING?
BEN TATAR: There are so many! There are long term favorite moments and there is that "initial excitement right after something happens, like setting a new personal record." I honestly believe, if you bench 225 or if you bench 405 for the first time, it really feels the same! Either way it's "HOLY SHIT!!!!" and "YESSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" The heavier weights, like 500lbs will always bring you more pride than 225 when you look back later on as it is a much higher point in the bench press ladder.
My single most favorite "pride" moment has to be the "INITIAL SHOCK OF COMPLETING 60 OR SO INTERVIEWS IN A MONTH." All the moments are very special in their own ways (You have to enjoy the failures and successes both- the only moments that can't be remembered or enjoyed are the ones never attempted.) The best feeling is being able to look back and seeing a kid who couldn't bench the bar, a kid who had major struggles to someone who is now very happy, strong, published and most of all completely turned his life around.
WHAT MOTIVATES YOU TO KEEP TRAINING YEAR AFTER YEAR?
BEN TATAR: My motivation is that weight lifting is about "AMAZING YOURSELF." That is what brings me the HEART AND DRIVE OF A WILD ANIMAL!!!
I can't see why anyone would want to quit and go back to a lazy lifestyle. Training is great from the things you see-the people you meet- the adrenaline rush, thrill action, excitement and attitude- the training partners yelling "YOU GOT IT, SHOW ME THAT F**KING ANIMAL DESIRE AND ALL THE SUPPORT THEY GIVE." Then exploding a bar loaded with plates!
The bench press isn't just about the max attempt that is important- It's the sacrifice it takes to get there is what brings benchers the ultimate satisfaction when the moment comes to conquer a goal. It is man VS the bar; survival of the physically and mentally strong; the attitude of WILL. You alone with the bench- It's war- The 3 most intense seconds of your life- It can give you a feeling that nothing else can-Setting personal records and breaking your records time after time after time! The bench press is the continuous feeling of VICTORY!!!
I hear people say "I WANT TO BENCH 315 AND THEN I WILL QUIT" Or after I hit xxx weight I will train easy. It doesn't work like that!! If you're training with 185x5 now and are attempting 225x1. By the time you get to 315 your going to want to rep it 3 times!!!! Then you will be adding 10s and screaming, "350 HERE I COME AND NOTHING IS GOING TO STOP ME!!!" Then, 400, I OWN YOU!!! And it keeps going… When you love it the mind just can't settle!
WHAT GOES THROUGH YOUR HEAD BEFORE DESTROYING A HUGE WEIGHT?
BEN TATAR: I think about SPEED- moving the bar fast through the whole
entire part of the lift! The mind has to think about more than just the
excitement of the lift and the excitement around you; it has to pay attention to special
details towards the whole set up. Then with lots of noise, encouragement you
just take the weight, breathe hard, expand the stomach and explode it up.
It's HIT or MISS and you learn from it. If you bench the weight you celebrate and then get your mind ready to go to the next level and if not you have to fix what you did
wrong and keep working at it.
WHAT DOES YOUR DIET CONSIST OF?
BEN TATAR: My diet is high protein and moderate-low on the carbs and fat. Nothing
spectacular, I just try to get all the good stuff that is available to me.
If you want a power eating plan try this:
Eat like a crazed maniac with all good calories. Eat 8 meals during the day
consisting of 60 grams of protein, 100 grams of carbs, red meat at least
twice a day and get your essential fats in. Supplement with Whey protein and
drink a shake in whole milk 2-3 times during the night.
So for any hard gainers out there if you want to get huge then that will
make you huge and for the guys who want to be the biggest and strongest same
rule will apply. Stay in check with a doctor for your health and remember to
relax and rest up a lot but do some sled pulling to stay in shape. Whatever path you take, you just have to put your heart and soul into it and your inner drive can take you to some amazing places.
WHAT IS THE BIGGEST MISTAKE BEGINNERS MAKE?
BEN TATAR: There are lots of mistakes beginners make…. I'll come up with 11…
1) I would say the biggest mistake is they try to be SUPER STARS overnight. This either leads to overtraining or never being able to take chances and fail. Failure is how we learn, builds toughness and our greatest motivator for improvements.
2) Just not realizing getting big/stronger is about WILL
Power and eating big. If you follow this message- train heavy, only train a
muscle group once per week and eat big then you will gain.
3) You have to give things up!! Too many people try being a bench press star, a champion bodybuilder, and a distance runner, getting the most girls, being the World's smartest man, being the best football player and making the most money. You can't have all and if you want a big bench you have to make great sacrifices. It's give to gain, as everything requires a different talent. I had an imaginary friend named Ben All-stars and I think he was 6'2 and 450lbs of muscle. He would beat Lance Armstrong in bike races. I had to kill him when I discovered what you feed grows and what you ignore diminishes. Like in bodybuilding, you have to get huge then you cut, in Raw benching you have to sacrifice your shirt bench, you can't be the guy who benches 225 100 times and the guy who benches 1000lbs when endurance is Type 1 slow twitch Fibers and speed/explosion Type 2 is fast twitch fibers… When I fed my shrug I did 755, my behind the neck press 315, 1 arm dumbbell over the head press 130 as my other lifts went down…While training to be a better athlete I became a much better athlete. And that's life we become successful at what we focus on the most! That is why having a huge bench press is a sacrifice and a lifestyle! It's a battle of desires and which ever is the most pure will win out!
4) Not setting DIRECT GOALS…. It's simple to get anywhere you need to know where you are going. If you train to 225 every workout, you stay there! Try to cycle your workouts/ add weight to the bar, do a speed day with the bungee bands, make weaker muscles stronger, get stronger throughout the range of motion and soon 225 will be 255, 275, 300,330,365…405.500.600. If you never quit and keep striving this is the making of a champion.
5) "THE FEAR TO GO TO THE NEXT LEVEL." I think, it's basic "ectos are scared to lose their 6 packs, big guys fear being weak for their size." The ones who AREN'T afraid to be different, who are willing to be FREAKS, who every time they step into the gym get insane in the head and think "WELCOME TO HELL." Get in the zone, turn the volume up and turn themselves into Lions, attacking the bench every time- will bench big!
MENTAL BARRIERS. In benching on another level we want to move ahead but some people get freaked out by "225" or "300" This is called "Mental Barriers." Mental Barriers come partially from the way one was raised, genetics, past failures and because they don't know how to over power the subconscious part of the brain. Some try to overcome it with trickery but that is a temporary solution. The 2 best ways to overcome mental blocks 1) PRACTICE THE SINGLE!!! The single strengthens all your attachments, perfects your form and builds confidence. 2) TREAT EVERY SINGLE WEIGHT THE SAME. If it's the bar say "I'M GONNA EXPLODE IT." You should be so focused on the set up that there is no way you can let the weight scare you! You visualize, picture yourself lifting the weight, let the monster (internal motivation) build and save it all for the exact moment- With proper set up, internal motivation and practice you shall be confident and ready to go to the next level- With time/habit and experience you can conquer just about anything!
6) IGNORING TECHNIQUE…. The base is the first thing you need to learn, the big weights and the numbers will follow! It's important to learn technique if you are not a genetic freak. Technique is very painful at first but when you get your technique down, you will be ready to take on the big weights! BIG STEP.
7) FORGETTING THE BENCH IS TRICEPS- Yes you need to work on all muscles to get as strong throughout the range of motion as possible as any weakness is a sticking point but the bench press it is mostly the triceps! Overload your triceps using boards/bands and then fatigue them with assistance work and you will be locking out more then you ever dreamed!
8) DOING TOO MANY SETS AND REPS- It seems natural to just do tons of reps and sets- Yes, it does make you a little bigger, it may increase your muscle endurance and that's great for fitness or required for certain sports but if you want a bigger bench press then you aren't achieving proper overload! Overloading your muscles is what makes them stronger. So once you decide to keep your reps low, do only 2-3 all out sets, get plenty of rest between the sets, get aggressive, add weight to the bar and train to success instead of failure, that big bench you always wanted will become a reality!
9) BELIEVING IN MAGIC ANSWERS- many people believe "if you do this exercise you will get super strong." "If you take this supplement, you will be strong." The mindset that goes deeper into the "gym talk." Gets confused and gets farther away from the "gym gains." People get so wrapped up in information they lose track of what's really most important! It's not the bench shirt, it's not the supplement, it's not the pros routine- IT'S SIMPLE: FOR ANYTHING TO WORK, YOU MUST WORK!
10) OVERTRAINING- Many benchers bench at least 3 times a day or go all out twice a week. It's a mistake (muscles grow while recovery and how you eat/sleep.) If you're not a pro who is juiced to the gills, then you can't really live in the gym. Oh yeah, and maxing out every week! If getting stronger were really that easy we would all be benching THOUSANDS of pounds. Yup, after peaking you must rebuild again! It takes self-discipline but it's the only real interesting and true way to make gains.
11) "The Super Tough guy image many weight lifters develop." See, any big bencher will have the heart and drive of a pit bull which is great but they feed on that ONLY and develop a very unhealthy hubris because they forget to realize the zillions of pieces that existed before they lifted (which are greater than the amount of atoms that exist in the whole entire universe.). And many of them are all nice and positive qualities! Example: They might even hate the weak guy at the gym but they were once them… So, I think it's good to feed the MONSTER desire (you have to feed it to bench scary weights.) And weight lifters use the MONSTER in great ways…. Instead of destroying someone or starting trouble they turn the monster into. Motivation, discipline, dedication, persistence, focus, conquering adversities and the pride of accomplishment and victory- THAT IS THE START OF A CHAMPION ON THE OUTSIDE!! And if you didn't feed the monster. It would torture and haunt you all the time and only lead to trouble!! BUT, you still have to feed the positive aspects of who you are (The nice guy, the lover and the helper.) and that is what many lifters forget to do! See if you don't your soul will see everything in hate and disgust. It's important to balance and feed everything to be whole and SO you can live in a state of motivation/domination and happiness both- CHAMPION FROM WITHOUT AND FROM WITHIN!
Overall, there are always many big mistakes lifters make from a lack of focus (worrying about others.) Consistency, the silly basics like bouncing the bar off their chest and ceiling thrusting, Not keeping a journal, closed minds, benching high on their chest, ignoring diet, doing what's easy and not what needs work, comfort zone training (the machines, not pushing themselves beyond the limits.) and the list goes on... And we often know on a level when we are making them! BUT, training is trial and error anyways so we have to make them no matter what! What matters is how we respond to our mistakes and for that we can't see them as BAD DAYS; Mistakes are learning experiences our guides and most of all mistakes are days to REDEFINE OURSELVES!!!
WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE FOR THE BEGINNER, INTERMEDIATE AND ADVANCED BENCHER?
BEN TATAR: The Beginner I would say, don't look for the magic supplement, don't believe everything you hear, get that magic number 3 sets of 10 out of your head.
Stop eating like a fitness model and start power eating- Get your triceps
strong, Heavy weights/low reps and become a beast! Keep your training
volume down, (meaning do less but add intensity.) rest between sets, keep your program simple, yet intense) train with heavy weights reps under 5 for only 2-3 sets! Throw in some easy weeks for recovery and eat like a pit bull. STOP BENCHING HIGH ON YOUR CHEST, it's best to tuck your elbows in and even hit your stomach then upper chest. There are no easy solutions- it's all hard work, guts and sacrifice but it
The other thing is the beginner should have someone advanced work with them.
Have someone work on their technique and help them learn the shirt and what
works for them. That is if they choose to go that path because I feel the
bench press has been divided into many different paths with many different
ladders to climb. We have RAW, single ply, double ply, different weight
classes, gyms, competitions and they are all exciting yet different. So
whichever way you want to go start out with an experienced coach, your
attitude will take care of the rest.
Intermediate- The intermediate stage is the happy stage. You have learned a
lot, you are very strong by this point and it is your decision to now enter
the scary zone.
Advanced- This is the stage where it all comes down to who has the most
guts, who is the most insane in the head to accomplish the most insane
feats, who endures the greatest amounts of pain and will push themselves the
hardest. This is the stage to see how far one can go.
WHAT ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT FACTORS FOR A BIGGER BENCH?
BEN TATAR: I think getting a bigger bench press is all about Desire vs. the
Price. Winners do what losers aren't willing to do-By this I mean, getting a bigger bench press takes lots of work, and you will need to want it bad enough and have incredible amounts of Will Power to blast through all obstacles including sacrifice, guts, pain, judgment, failure, torture, suffrage and adversity. You will never attain a big bench press just by hoping to get one-you are going to have to work for it.
I think another huge factor in getting a bigger bench press is courage. You
could want to bench big but if you aren't willing to take risk after risk,
stepping under bigger and bigger weights then you can't expect to get a
bigger bench press. The bench press is not a fad for bragging rights, it is
an extreme sport!
The other major part of getting a bigger bench press is believing,
visualizing and practicing mental imagery. (Look at a sign that reminds you of your mission so your motivation doesn't run out.) Then when you enter the gym you will always be THE MONSTER ready to destroy everything! It makes all the difference- if you set mental barriers then you will always be stuck at that very barrier in your own mind. The mind is stronger than the body and the body will follow the mind.
I could go on about determination/Motivation but the trick is anything that
is worth anything is about pushing yourself over and over again with guts
and persistence to fight guts, putting your fears into action by causing an adrenaline rush to taking you to unbelievable heights of excellence, letting your pains be
weaknesses leaving your body and making you stronger and stronger. In time the challenge becomes your best friend- It takes time but by following these attitudes and getting a support team to keep you motivated, it will happen- You will also have to be smart, if you burn out then you lose desire and you can't get there with only discipline alone.
In the bench press we will all experience our highs/lows and fight through
the peaks and valleys... How you respond is the key... And every high should be enjoyed but you also have to remember that the low times show you are working, make the highs so fun and are what makes the whole bench press quest so exciting! It couldn't be any better and it's all as INTERESTING AS YOUR OUTLOOK!
Most of all just keep an open mind, to keep learning and live the lifestyle!
It's all about putting what you learn into action. Whoever, is the most pure at heart, has the most drive and the most in testicular fortitude will survive!
ANY FUNNY STORIES YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE?
BEN TATAR: One night I was in my basement doing skull crushers with a home set of
dumbbells. There were lots of little 10 and 5lbs plates on them. After a
few reps the clips came off and all these thick metal 10lbs plates came
crashing down onto my head! My head was bleeding and I went to the Emergency
room where I had to get stitches. There was a bandage on my head for the
next 2-3 weeks.
LET'S CHANGE TOPICS, WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE FOR SOMEONE WHO WANTS TO GET REALLY
BEN TATAR: This program is strictly to get as big as possible and not to get as big of a bench press as possible.
Program to get huge…
…Training would be kept to less than 45 minutes, if I had to, I would do 2
different sessions. I would train 4 days a week at the maximum. I would only
do basic exercises! It might look like this
SATURDAY- chest/sh/tris...I would either bench, incline for chest, push
presses, military or behind the neck for shoulders, and close grip, bench
dip, or rack lockouts for tris, I would only do one movement for each body
part, and trash it! Keep the reps around 3-6
SUNDAY-....legs/back I would either, squat/front squat, zercher squat for
legs, deads, rows or chins or power cleans for back
TUESDAY- I would use this day to work my speed stuff, speed bench, and do
my shoulder and tri stuff, but lighter and more reps for a pump
WED-...This day I would either speed box squat, or sprints, sumo deadlifts,
some traps and biceps, and a pulldown movement for lats.
(Credited by Mike Witmer who taught me a lot about training.) You can also read his interview as he has benched over 750 in training, a great bodybuilder, strongman, football coach, motivator and mentor.
This routine would hit all the muscle fibers. Still you will have to set your mind to scarier, scarier levels and most of all it's how you prepare before and after workouts.
For bodybuilding and training with endurance to be shredded presents its own challenge...A lot of bodybuilding really teaches you mental toughness in the "I WON'T QUIT SENSE." And in order to train to failure it's about responding to pain. For one if you're doing drop or strip sets or many sets on a tempo count, you can't think, "This hurts so I quit." Most of us think that you should think "Pain is nothing, and I'm going to conquer it while it's happening." In reality you are just playing with aspects of pain and fighting it… YOU DON'T FIGHT IT, YOU GO ALONG WITH IT… welcome it and make it your friend- Not your enemy. Only then you can really automatically shut off the light switch in the brain and train to true failure.
I think Powerlifting "TEACHES YOU BRAVERY." As you learn to put yourself out there on the line and its kill or be killed...And I think fear plays a big role when it comes to lifting more and more. Again, fear isn't bad- Fear is a GIFT! What we think we fear isn't even happening but only a link to fear. So again you must become friends with fear and use it to make it work for you!! Pain and fear are great-Use it to your advantage!
WHAT IS YOUR STANCE ON DRUGS/SUPPLEMENTS BENCH SHIRTS/ RAW?
BEN TATAR: It's a lifters business to train how he or she wants and it's up to them to
take advantage of what they want. It's none of my business what they do nor
is it anyone else business. Having more then one side in my eyes is good,
giving us options.
If you go to gyms across the world it's the flat bench most people love. A
bodybuilder will always be asked, "How much do you bench press" When
bodybuilding has nothing to do with that question at all. Getting ripped and
a bigger bench press is clearly a different game and it's just a lack of
knowledge on society's part. It takes the real thing to know what a wannabe
The people who use bench shirts get dissed because the people who bench RAW
feel since they don't bench with shirts they don't have someone they can
compare themselves too, so it's easy for them to make fun of them. Of
course the shirt benchers can then say, we deserve to bench more because we
took it to the extreme by getting involved with the gear. It's just circles
of judgment, limiting people from meeting other good people and having good
Really the debate is a bunch of crap. Just like the steroid debate.
Steroids and bench shirts don't work like magic, you still need to train
hard and have lots of will power to make gains. Nothing happens unless you
make it happen.
HOW DO YOU SEE THE FUTURE OF BENCHING?
BEN TATAR: I see 1000lbs being benched in the next few years. I think the RAW bench will keep going up too. The numbers will keep getting higher and higher,
barriers are always being broken that is what benching is all about! More
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE CHANGE IN THE MUSCLE WORLD?
1) Just how fake it has gotten. Muscle Magazines have been controlled by
corporations that seem to "force" magazine authors to write articles that
usually end up with an endorsement with their product. Read the articles at
Critical Bench and other places they are the places you get the real info.
2) The circles of hate you see in lifting. In weight lifting it is all
give to gain- so of course you will have strengths and weaknesses. The
strengths a fitness model has and a blurry strongman has is very different.
Yet people seem to be threatened by anything that is beyond them in some
type of way-The unfortunate thing that comes along when people worry about
other peoples business are, that we lose track of our desires, goals, it prevents us from creating our lives in positive ways, Judging is caused by internal pain- When you judge others you are judging yourself and you are being judged- It's refusal of looking at the characteristics you see in yourself that you don't approve of and then when one person puts another down.. Lots of people jump in and the negativity SPREADS LIKE A CANCER! Of course on another level you have the vindictive wannabes who think they have power but when in reality are just scared- they try to mess with the minds of the experienced lifters to see "how they will react." I think it's part of growing up and testing to see what works and doesn't- it's easy to say "Lets just get along and be happy." It doesn't work that way because when they are happy and quiet they feel ignored- Many people would rather be hated and in jail then never paid attention to at all…On another level, lifters are meeting the shadow, the internal selves of them they have stuffed way back since childhood so when they see something they dislike in others, it's only a shadow of themselves that is waiting to be embraced. (That causes internal pain and jealousy as well.) On the other hand with top lifters they are extremely serious about training and have a deep passion for the sport! When someone hits their most sensitive nerve, there are going to be problems… Also weight lifting can be a selfish sport- Some lifters egos become extremely hubris feeling that the world evolves around them, when in reality they would feel so much happier if they could keep making their gains while having the ability to accept themselves and others. Overall, Weight lifting is great: It teaches us motivation, discipline, dedication, persistence, focus, conquering adversities and the pride of accomplishment and victory but when these behaviors exist we really start forgetting about "why we started training in the first place." and how this is a TEAM: That we want to help and be the best we can be…
We all want to succeed, we all enjoy it and it loses its fun when people have to try and
cheapen everything. Worry about yourself- you only have to beat yourself. If
you worry about the next guy you lose track of yourself.
WHAT TRAINING PROGRAM DO YOU THINK WORKS THE BEST?
1) That's personal preference. Most things work but nothing works forever. If
you always do what you always done you will always get what you always got.
I think you need to find a program and work it hard, sticking with it. Yet
you still need to use instincts and keep making modifications so the body
won't adapt and plateau.
2) CRITICAL BENCH- I think if you're a person who is an athlete, bodybuilder, into raw strength and aren't really interested in competing with bench shirts and someone who also wants size or be downright strong then the CRITICAL BENCH program is one of the greatest programs out there!!!!!! You don't need boards, chains, bench shirts, weight releasers or any other forms of equipment- With the Critical Bench program there is no controversy or gimmicks- it's just lots of hard work in benching most purest form! It's an excellent program to get your bench sky rocketing!!!!!
So, for the everyday gym warriors, bodybuilders, athletes, powerlifters and benchers who are into real strength and want to look strong- give the Critical Bench program a try- Hey the outcome is a 50-100lbs new bench max in 10 weeks, pride for trying something new, it automatically makes you work very hard and if it doesn't work well then at least you tried and learned! (There is a 98% chance that it will work because the program is a way of shocking the body because there is no other program like it and that automatically will lead it gains.) It's worth the try as you can only gain from it!!!! You will also have to remember, the program is very challenging! But if it's easy then anyone can do so then what's the value? IT WILL ONLY MAKE YOU STRONGER physically and mentally!
You also have to remember after vicious cycles with training programs that you have to take it easy for a while before doing another cycle, in order for it to work again. .
3) SHIRT BENCH PRESS PROGRAM- there are many programs out there and you must find the one that fits you best. (With programs remember it isn't so much what you do but the intensity you apply.) Here is a training program that helped create some bench press champions who use a shirt: (Created by Ryan Kennelly and also been used by Mike Witmer.).
First you're going to need to do a lot in the shirt so get one and get ready for action…Week 1...reverse band, 2 board, with shirt. What the 2 boards do is take some of the stretch out of the bands, but still giving you the blast out of the hole! Work your way up in triples, until you feel you will miss, then hit singles. With the shirt on, and reverse band, you will handle very heavy loads. The whole key is to get used to handling, heavy, heavy, heavy weight, then when you do a full range, the weight will feel like paper! Do very high volume too, at least 11 sets, counting warm-ups! Then do a tricep movement. Here is the key. Do movements that work that tendon that goes across your elbow. This is actually what locks weight out, not the big head of the tricep! So, do dumbbell, palm-facing ext (8 reps) then some band press downs, for the endurance 3 sets of 20. Then a lat movement that mimics the bench, Ryan likes to take a pulldown bar, set it up on a cable
WEEK 1...2 board, with bands, using the same format. Then assistance work
WEEK 3 take a break, do some raw, sets of 5, don't go to failure! Your central nervous system, joints, and mind need the break. 2 sets of 5, then hit the assistance work!
WEEK 4...2 board with bands, same format, same assit work.
WEEK 5... 3 board with chains or bar weight
WEEK 6... start it all again!
Now for your DE or speed day! 40% of 1rm in a shirt. NO HEAVIER!!! It's actually better to go lighter! Do your 8 sets of 3; use bands for 3 weeks, chains, or bar weight for 3. Assistance after, light skull crushers, on the floor, 3 sets of 12, with 30 seconds rest, rope press downs, same, close grip inclines or dumbbell inclines, light, just 3 sets of 12, getting a pump! Some shoulder work like, dumbbell laterals, or front plate raises, getting a good burn and pump! That's it!
Some key points! Pick one day, do just back and biceps. Make all your lat work mimic the bench motion! Pinching shoulder blades, do 2 exercises. 4 sets of 6-8. Face pulls 3 sets of 8, biceps, do a curling motion, then ALWAYS include hammer curls, these muscles are what controls the drop of the bar while benching!
Do 2 extra workouts a week, LIGHT! Do sled pulling including a tricep movement, chest movement, lat movement, and face pull, Bands are good too!
If you decide to attempt these programs I hope they all work well for you. As you go along you will need to make modifications for your body and needs.
I also realize, that many people love benching and they aren't after a world record and that's great too just for having the passion. As the ones who find meaning in life are the ones who can truly enjoy it and remember:
YOU CAN BE A GREAT BENCHER AT ANY AGE.
You don't even have to be a champion! Just fall in love with the sport- The bench press is an exercise that just about anyone can do and is a lift where you can only get better if you prepare well and train hard- Most of all The bench press is a great way to stay competitive against yourself while you go through your teens, 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s and even 70s.
FOR THE FRUSTRATED BENCHER: NEVER LET A LET DOWN RUIN YOU- Let downs and tough times are so temporary and the cause is usually excellence in the making! I remember, points in my life where I couldn't bench 165lbs and at the time I thought it was the end of the world but then when you start to bench double that, all you can do is, look back and laugh!! It just takes time and patience so stay in the moment to prevent yourself from frustration- Things will progress naturally!
Sometimes let downs can be more frustrating like when the Central Nervous System becomes shot! All that means is that your body is telling you to take it easy (focus on other things.) Then chalk up again and start another journey! In the end it's all about the whole journey and not the temporary let down!
The bench press is a lot like life in that you must overcome many small obstacles to realize your final goals- Whether it be a "a world record holder, a champion athlete, achieve a bigger upper body and most of all if you have the guts to bench, you will have the guts to attempt anything! This is great because in life as it is relative; we all have strengths and weaknesses depending on the environment that we are in- Benching teaches us to be humble, hard working and open minded - We can carry these tools to other areas of our lives and accomplish more than we could ever imagine.
WHO DO YOU THINK IS THE BEST BENCHER EVER?
BEN TATAR: I have been debating who the best is at everything for a great part of my life! I'm going to say that it really depends on the time and circumstances. I think it's hard to compare a Mike MacDonald to a Ryan Kennelly, a James Henderson to a George Halbert, a Ken Lain to a Jamie Harris (who was on top so long) or a Jim Williams to a Scott Mendelson. . As they all win in their own category! Different benchers dominated different periods of time- it was only 2 years ago that many thought 850 couldn't ever be done and now we're looking ahead to 10000+ pounds. Today it seems like everyone is a great bencher-I think Glen Chabot was a very scary bencher, laying flat on his back with a narrow grip, benching like a gym rat and smoking 665lbs like it was the bar- That was just an incredible display of power!!!!! Then we have Ted Arcidi and Billy Graham who were ahead of their times, from way back, who inspired so many people to become great benchers! On the other hand we have brilliant technicians who know how to utilize their strength through gear and technique to get the greatest weights up like Jesse Kellum. So they are amazing too!!!
The "best" means something a little differently to everyone, as they all left their mark on the sport in their own way, so there are many best. Some people just love seeing a 400lbs beast larger than life kill 800lbs as others admire someone who looks more ordinary that can be super strong and fit. Again, some love raw benching and think it's benching at its most pure form and is what real strength is, as others love the gear and more weights because they think it's more hardcore! I have interviewed and spoken with many great benchers and I know there are lots of incredible ones out there and I like them all for different reasons. To me the best bencher isn't the guy who just lifts the most weight but who I like away from the gym on an internal level. On an external level I feel the best bencher hasn't been born yet! Athletes get bigger, we get stronger, nutrition, technology advances and like mankind, benching is just forward progression!
Regardless of who I think best is, (depending on the specific category, contest and day.) I know that every single bencher and person out there has a special gift to offer life and themselves that nobody else can ever offer-We have the ability to motivate and have a positive effect on somebody that others just couldn't do and that's a true gift. Plus only we have our own strengths and weaknesses and for that we have to worry about being the best we can be and not compare us to the next guy… For all that are reading this maybe YOU will be THE BEST BENCHER AND HOLD A RECORD DURING A PERIOD OF TIME.
IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU WOULD LIKE TO SAY TO CRITICAL BENCH READERS?
Weight Lifting has made a big difference in my life. I use to be the goofy
guy who got in trouble and it was a discipline tool that taught me about
persistence, focus, mental toughness and the whole process of Attitude. This
allowed me to keep moving forward in all areas of my life.
I would like to tell others to do something positive. Apply a Positive
attitude into everything you do- If you ever feel down and want to start
problems don't use your energy that way, instead train harder, help someone
out and do the best you can- Why waste such a great power? When you work
towards excellence everyday you make great accomplishments and great things
will come back, If not all the negative stuff begins to happen... AND, if you took it all to the extreme you have a lot of excitement you can always look back on
the other thing is, having a great bench press or being successful is a
great thing but it's also important to be a great person. This will make you
happier and life will always go better.
I would like to thank all my mentors! I have a lot of mentors for very different reasons-A mentor to me is someone who gives me an adrenaline rush every time I see them or hear from them and they are the ones who every time I make an accomplishment- I can see their smile!
If you would like to help Critical Bench out feel free to email me at
firstname.lastname@example.org. It takes a team of supporters to do anything
and we can all make a big difference.
Train hard and remember how far you go is all in your hands.