Everlifting.com :: Table of Contents

« 3.3. Potential issues and their solutions | 3.4. Variations and their purposes | Part 4. Deadlift »

3.4. Variations and their purposes

3s Pause bench press

Improves skill, position, bottom strength, and “no fear”.

This variation is done by pausing for three full seconds on the chest. It makes the regular bench press easier and one can substitute for it for entire cycles at times. It's especially useful if the lifter has a tendency to "bounce" the bar on the chest.

Close grip bench press

Improves lockout, strengthen arms, will have 1:1 carryover for some lifters.

A close grip means shoulder width, or just next to the smooth of the bar. For people with weak arms the close grip bench press can be useful. And for some it has a direct carryover to the regular bench press. In the latter case it serves a different purpose: once you have trained a lift seriously for a significant period of time it's hard to increase it. It will be easier to focus on increasing the close grip bench press in that case.

Incline bench press

Strengthen chest and shoulders, will have very high carryover for some lifters.

Incline bench press is typically set at roughly 45 degrees but the case can be made to use a higher or lower incline as well. Due to the nature of the incline bench press, the bar must be touched higher on the chest and work the muscle there more. The order of motor unit recruitment changes. It also stress the shoulders more than the regular bench press. Like the close grip bench press, for some the incline bench press will have an almost direct carryover to the competition bench press.

Press/behind the neck press

Strengthen shoulders, keep shoulders healthy.

Correctly done presses (locked out slightly behind the head) and especially behind the neck presses will go a long way to handle cranky and achy shoulders. Be sure to start very light (possibly even just using a broomstick) with high repetitions, especially on behind the neck presses, if you have shoulder issues.

Pin press

Improves lockout, improves start of the press (if using low enough pins).

Set up pins and press from them. Each rep is done from a completely dead stop without bouncing on the pins. It allows for high amount of overload which may strengthen ligaments and tendons, as well as get the lifter used to heavier weights. If the pins are set fairly low (close to the chest) it can even improve the start of the press as it's harder to press from a dead stop than after lowering a weight.

Board press

Improves lockout, allows strengthening a specific point.

Have someone hold a board or pad on the lifter’s chest. Instead of benching to the chest the lifter will bench to the board. Board press can be done with any number of boards or any size pad. You might be surprised that even if the range of motion is less, all size boards are not necessarily easier than the regular bench press. If there's a specific point in the lift that's weak you probably get through it with shear momentum. A correctly matched board press will not allow you too.

Dumbbell Press

Improves bottom position.

Similar to bench press but use dumbbells instead. Due to being able to lift with a greater range of motion, dumbbell presses allow you to strengthen the bottom.