An Effective Exercise to Improve Your Bench Press Performance

Dear  Shamelessly Strong friend,

Let’s talk about the bench press.

Believe it or not, not everyone can openly discuss this topic.

Like, I’ve been a powerlifter for two years, and I still belong to #teampovertybench.

So, if you are too struggling with this lift, please know, you’re not alone.

As a coach, I’ve worked with hundreds of women. Some of them are even better bench pressers than me. And some belong to the same team.

You see, the bench press is tricky. The technique plays a huge part in your success with this lift. Instant gainz is a rare occasion if you weren’t gifted with an upper body strength like Simone Biles.

Typically, to press a big number (like 135lbs), you need to have strong arms and back. But also, you’ve got to have almost perfect bar path, solid leg drive, and a good amount of elbow flare.

If only there was one exercise that could help you with all of these things, that would be hella…wait.

There IS one.

That perfect exercise that fixes all the problems! (bench press related that is)

It’s underutilized by many, but those who discover it are in for a treat. So, consider yourself lucky, because I’m about to share it with you today!

Ready?

Introducing, ISO Bench press.

I’ve learned about this exercise from “The Black Book of training” by Christian Thibaudeau.

There, Christian uses it to help boyz to put on mass. Naturally a tomboy, I gave this exercise a try for the same reasons. But! I was quick to realize this single bench press variation is a GOLDMINE for anyone who struggles with bench press (like you and me.)

For example, take my client Melissa. Before getting into powerlifting, she was a runner. So strength training was a wild animal for her.

before and after

After she switched, Mel built strength in her arms and back, but, even a year in, still struggled with the lift.

One of the challenges she faced with the lift was the leg drive. But also, she was afraid trusting the pause.

So I included ISO bench press in her programming. To my surprise, she LOVED this variation (because, personally, I hated it.) She found it helpful with a few things, like bar path, trusting the pause, and, believe it or not, the mental aspect.

Today, she presses her current PR for reps and sets.

So, how does this magic exercise look like and how you do it?

Well, let’s see.

Notice, there are three things happening:

  1. ECCENTRIC PHASE: Melissa moves the bar down on a count 5-4-3-2-1. This teaches her to control the bar on the way down, minimizing unnecessary movements. 
  2. PAUSE: 2 seconds on the body. This teaches you to keep tension in your back and synch the leg drive with the press perfectly.
  3. INTENT: Press with the explosion. This can help you to attack the bar and almost throw it back to the squat rack.

PROGRAMMING CONSIDERATIONS

Frequency & Time:

1-2x/week is a good start.

ISO bench press could be used as a supplement exercise on your bench days, as well as the main one.

Intensity:

55-65-% max, or 6-7 on RPE scale. (that feels like you’ve done 3-4 more reps with it the weight)

Sets and reps:

A sweet spot: 3-4 sets of 5-6 reps.

And If you really wanna take your bench press to the next level, check out 10 weeks  “Bench like a beast” program my coach, friend, and mentor Tony Bonvechio released a few weeks ago. Click Here!

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