What’s the quintessential exercise when you think about heading to the gym to workout? WRONG! It’s flat barbell bench press. (If you got it right, then yay… have a cookie.)
Regular ol’ flat barbell bench press is a great exercise to do at the gym for upper body strength. The main muscles being worked are your chest and the secondary muscles affected can vary depending on grip style, grip width, angle of stabilizing surface (i.e. incline, flat, decline, or malleable), and varying weights used.
The following simple workout revolves around the flat barbell bench press as the heaviest lift of the workout. The push-ups before benching are your chest muscles warm-up; the exercises after benching help work the muscles that flat bench didn’t hit.
With the bench press, focus on the task at hand and visualize what you will need to do. Add the weighted plates that you want to press, add them to the barbell, and lock them in place with the appropriate safety clips.
Soon as you’re ready, lay on your back and keep it flat against the bench during the entirety of each set and rep. DO NOT ARCH YOUR BACK DURING MID-EXERCISE.
Adjust where you need to be before pushing off – I like to line my eyes directly underneath the barbell.
Brace your core (keep your ab muscles tight) and keep your feet comfortably on the ground. DO NOT FLAIL YOUR LEGS/FEET AROUND DURING MID-EXERCISE.
Place your hands. Normally, shoulder width apart works fine. If your gym uses notched, Olympic bars, “measure” where shoulder width is for you. For this particular exercise, an overhand grip will be used.
Take a deep breath in. Unrack the weight, Keep holding that breath while slowly lowering it down to lightly touch your chest muscles. After that initial touch, push the weight as fast as you can upwards while exhaling.
Once the weight is pressed back to the top and arms are straight (aka locked out), then you’ve completed 1 rep while doing full range of motion. Congrats!
Now pause, take a deep breath in, and repeat until sets are finished.
DO NOT BOUNCE THE WEIGHT OFF YOUR CHEST WHEN DOING ANY HEAVY BENCH EXERCISES. Failing to do so can lead to serious injuries and even death. So don’t do it. Be safe and have a spotter readily available regardless if you can bench the weight flawlessly or have initial concerns before pressing.
Now I’m a gym guy and love Iron. But this workout along with many of the workouts that I refer to can easily be adapted for non-gym goers. For this particular workout, various styles of push-ups and stretchy bands can do what Iron does.
Stay strong, keep breathing, and be hungry.
What You Will Need:
Rowing Machine or Jump Rope
Flat Bench Press Station + Various Weighted Plates
10 minutes of foam rolling
3 sets of 500m row (1 minute rest between sets) OR 5 minutes of jump rope
4 exercises, different sets, various reps
Rest for 1:30-2:00 minutes between sets.
Rest for 2:00-3:00 minutes between exercises.
Push-Up: 3 sets of 5-6 reps
- Preferably on the ground
- Maintain proper push-up position the entire time (feet together, hands shoulder width apart, back straight, core tight)
-arms straight on the up
-triceps (back of arms) parallel to the ground on the down
Flat Barbell Bench Press: 9 sets at a 30X1 tempo (See GORUCK Glossary for Tempo Training.)
- Have a spotter available
- Record your weight progressions for the following pyramid set:
-12 reps ___________
-10 reps ___________
-8 reps ___________
-6 reps ___________
-5 reps ___________
-4 reps ___________
-3 reps ___________
-2 reps ___________
-1 rep ___________
Alternating Dumbbell Press: 3 sets of 6 reps
- Laying on a flat bench.
Dumbbell Flies: 3 sets of 6-8 reps
- Laying on a flat bench.
To make your chest muscles really hate you for the next couple of days or to fully push your chest muscles, do 3 sets of 10 -12 reps of incline bench press before the flat bench and 3 sets of 10-12 reps of decline bench press after the flat bench. Choose your weights accordingly and have a spotter available.
Carry a small notebook and pen and record all the weights that you’ve used for each of the above exercises. It’s a great way to track progress and plan future workouts.