Bench Gains without the Bench
Are you missing your bench? If you are a regular at a gym I’m certain that your sadness goes deeper than missing the bench press, however all my “bro’s” feel the pain! I hear you, and understand. NO ONE and I mean NO ONE should have to lose too many bench gains simply because of a virus. Doesn’t this silly sickness know that we have a summer bod to prepare for? How dare this thing! Covid-19 is adding our summer body to the list of things that it’s ruining!
Well, I have some good news. No I can’t promise you the summer body you hope for. That would take me living with you and putting the correct food in your fridge, pantry and then likely even preparing it for you and shoveling it into your mouth, that is where most of you will fail when it comes to diet. BUT I can’t help you keep the bench lb’s on your lift without the bench press. How? I’ll explain.
Benching isn’t just about benching. The bench press is primarily influenced by ones power and strength in the chest, triceps and shoulders and we can train these without a bench press. Of course the movement will change slightly but the action of the muscles can mimic a bench press and have a tremendous amount of carry over and impact. The goal is to get back to the gym like you missed out on as little progress as possible.
Push Up more. It seems like a no brainer but you can do push ups every day. As a basic body function, when done correctly, the push up can be one of the best total body movements done for anyone! It trains primarily the chest, deltoids and triceps dynamically as we press away and lower back to the floor. BUT did you know it has lasting effects on the abs, quads, feet and lats? Yep! It blasts the total body when you do them correctly, and as you add capacity (being able to do more) the benefits continue to be added.
Get creative with your pressing! Don't’ stop with the basic push up. Don’t do the same reps all the time with the same rest in the same position. Create variance/ change in as many ways as possible. Even if you are strong, visit the wall push up or the kneeling push up to add volume and increase the number of contractions you are capable of. Put your feet on the couch or a box, stagger your hands so they aren’t square beside each other, bring your hands outside of the shoulders for a heavier focus on the chest. Bring your hands inside the shoulders as close as touching like a “diamond” for a greater emphasis on the tricep. Do push ups for “time” meaning that you are trying to get as much work done in a specific time window as possible. And do push ups for “reps” where you set a bench mark number like 50 or 200 and you get them done in as few sets as possible through the day. Varying your rest is really important, if you want real gains you need rest very “little” and also very “long”. This could look like only giving yourself :30 between some sets or less and up to 5:00 and more for rest when you are trying to do as many reps in a set as possible or “to failure”.
Level up! Outside of the long list I just mentioned in the previous paragraph your options are still endless. If the push up is “easy” for you then don’t fret. Your next option is to level it up by adding some speed and distance to it. You can do the “plyo” push up. This push up is done just like a normal one, except you are going to accelerate your body as much as possible propelling your body off the floor as high as possible each rep. The inclusion of speed all the way through the press adds a tremendous amount of force to each rep, this movement essentially mimics adding weight to your body! This type of speed and power development is best done in smaller sets with maximal effort each rep. An example would be 4 sets of 3-6 reps, being sure you are resting ample time between sets. These movements optimally aren’t done to failure, save those for the other styles of push ups, after you finish your explosive work. A more obvious way to make the push up more difficult is to add weight to your body. If you have access to a backpack, load it up and strap it on, or a toddler, or a suitcase or some plates, whatever you may have that increases load!
Benching isn’t just about benching, don’t forget there are ways to train the same muscles and prepare for a successful bench press max without even training that movement. Look through the article again, make a list of the movements and do a variation of each one each week. You pick reps and sets that work for your time and ability and see how it goes. The goal is that 5-6 days a week be doing some form of pressing and see what can happen! If you are struggling to have energy or focus to want to get to work, then you need to try the new Recharge+ that will get you up for any task! After workouts be sure to smash down 20-40 grams of protein to get the muscles what they worked hard for. May the gains be ever in your favor.