T Nation

Bench Press Continual Variations & Military Press Continual Variations

Hi CT,
Quick question, over 3 phases of 4 weeks how does this Bench Press variation look:
Phase 1: 2 Board Bench Press
Phase 2: Bench Press W/ Chains
Phase 3: Full Bench Press

This progression work well, or should Bench Press W/ Chains be done PH 1 and 2 Board Bench Press for PH 2?

Also, what Military Press variations could you recommend?

Thanks for the help,

I would personally put the bench with chains first.

Here the reason.

In a progression like this you want the movement furthest away, from a motor coordination perspective, to be done the earliest.

While the bench press with chains is a full range lift and the board press is not, the resistance curve is the opposite to the one in a regular bench: in a normal bench the first half of the bench is harder whereas the top if easier (you can do more on a half bench press than a full bench press). Which the chains it’s the opposite.

While I do not dispute that chains can be useful (I like that they create an overload and get thee body used to handling heavier weights and possibily desensitize the Golgi tendon organs) doing it too close to the bench could impair performance by messing up the motor pattern.

The 2 board press, while a partial movement (although not that much of a reduction) has the same feel and resistance curve than a regular bench and is a nice transition from the chains bench to the regular bench.

Phase 1: High incline press (75 deg)
Phase 2: Standing shoulder press from pins set at mouth level
Phase 3: Military press

Fantastic, the Bench Press info make sense, looking forward to implementing.

Just on the Military Press variations, sorry to be annoying, but does the following example you provide match up with your ‘Biggest Training Lie’ article on variation? Is it because all 3 lifts you provide follow the same lifting dynamic/angle of a Military Press, like the Bench Press variations?

Could you explain?

Thanks again for the help,

What do you mean???

Sorry about that, reading your ‘Biggest Training Lie’ article you recommend staying with same big lift but changing the conditions of the lift for continuous gains.

For instance the High Incline Press (75 deg) is different to the Military Press, or am I wrong here? As you mention looking at the Bench Press, changing to an Incline Press would not work as they are two different lifts with different recruitment patterns. This make sense?

If taking the above into account, would the 3 lifts you mention for Military Press still work?

Thanks again,

You’re not wrong. And that’s what I personally do most of the time. I was specifically answering the question by the poster.

My goal is not to convert everybody and have them do things exactly how I do them. So even though what he asked is not what I believe in or do most of the time (I’ve done it in some programs) I still decided to answer it with the knowledge I have and how I would do things if I used that approach.

Furthermore, I’m not married to any one approach. I have principles that I apply most of the time (which also have evolved over time) but even those are sometimes put aside to achieve a specific purpose.

Take fat loss for example.

I personally believe that one should NOT use the lifting program as a fat loss tool. Use dieting and energy systems work to lose the fat, lifting to maintain (or increase) muscle mass and strength while dieting.

I feel that those high-volume, low -rest metabolic based lifting sessions are a mistake when trying to lose fat.

BUT I will sometimes use that type of training for a short fat loss blitz or the last phase with someone who needs to get completely shredded.

Here are the reasons why I prefer to stick to the same basic lift for longer:

  1. Lower neurological demands: the more efficient you are in a movement, the less neurologically demanding it becomes (because it’s more automatic). That’s the main reason why weightlifters can snatch and clean & jerk daily. And when something is less neurologically demanding, it leads to a lower cortisol and adrenaline release which lessen the risk of “training burnout”

  2. I like to use the main lift as a measuring stick. If the main lift goes up, I know the training is working. It is not then maybe the programming, recovery or assistance work is not adequate. If I constantly change the movement, it’s hard to truly assess progression.

  3. Keeping the same lift in allows you to improve technique more.

NOW one thing that I DIDN’T know when I wrote the article is that changing the exercises can help when it comes to hypertrophy.

The reason is that when you are less efficient at a movement, the intramuscular coordination is poor and this results in more muscle damage which can lead to more growth.

So there are benefits in changing even the main lifts.

Understood, appreciate the detail response.

So to simplify it, using a 3 phase program for main lifts following a rep scheme for example:

Phase 1: 6RM, 5RM, 4RM
Phase 2: 5RM, 4RM, 3RM
Phase 3: 4RM, 3RM, 2RM

  1. For instance with the Bench Press, with the rep scheme above, what would you prefer to use in training, Full Bench Press for all 3 phases, or is the breaking up per phase (Chains, 2 Board, Full) work well?

Thanks again,