T Nation

Benching Halfway Down

I remember when I watched Pumping Iron seeing Lou Ferringo doing bench presses and only going less than half way to isolate only his pecs. I started doing these lately and I like the incline better, I feel it more than in the flat bench.

Do any of you guys do these (what are they called)? Are they better with high reps or low reps. What do some of you guys have to say about them. I have been doing a lot of tricep work on the bench lately (close hand, lockouts) and since my full ROM is being fatigued I figured these would be a good finisher. Any feedback?

Half the dorks where I often train only come down halfway anyway because it’s the only way they can bench press more than 135 pounds. The name for the exercise they are doing is the ‘Cheating Dork Half-Ass Bench’.
Also, I heard that personal trainers these days are actually advising people not to bench to the chest to protect their shoulders.
(Sorry to go off track from your original post)

Westsiders do that to protect their shoulders on ME (limit strength) bench days when they do board presses or floor presses. If they do full ROM every week, they’ll certainly get more wear and tear. I don’t know about others though. They probably don’t know what or why they’re doing it anyway.

I don’t know about doing it to isolate your pecs. I think that is a terrible way, but what do I know. If you are really interested in isolating your pecs then check out Chad Waterbury’s Six Weeks to a Bigger Chest article. It is all about building bigger pecs and he says benching aint the way to do it, but what does he know?

[quote]Tungsten wrote:
Westsiders do that to protect their shoulders on ME (limit strength) bench days when they do board presses or floor presses. If they do full ROM every week, they’ll certainly get more wear and tear. I don’t know about others though. They probably don’t know what or why they’re doing it anyway.[/quote]

I don’t think you understand the purpose of the board and floor press. And the advantages of strong triceps and a bench shirt.

Many pros only go halfway up, they do not lockout justifying this strategy by saying that the lockout relieve tension from the pecs. While this is partially true, it also lessen the training effect received by the triceps, thus making the bench press a less effective overall movement.

A better strategy would be to use an iso-dynamic contrast. Do a regular bench press, but hold a 2-3 seconds pause when the bar is halfway down (a few inches from the chest) this will lenghten the time that the pecs are under tension without reducing the stimulus placed on the triceps.

I think Chris got it right… it’s benching to the chest, but not locking that hits the pecs better. Not what the panzzies at the gym do, by only going down half way from lock-out.

I’m a personal trainer and strength coach - I sometimes use and prescribe “partial benching” with extremely heavy weight. I only go half way down from lock-out, but I’m hitting 90-95%1RM for 5-6, where normally I could only get 2-3 at most. The advantage of this is that your upper body and CNS will feel the heavier weight which can spark growth and strength gain. Disadvantage is that since it’s a partial movement, it can only be used infrequently say 3-4 times a year. You don’t want to cheat a full ROM all the time.

Also, the partial presses I prescribe are really for strength athletes. Maybe a body builder could hit them for a change of stimulus tho.

Do you think this is more benefitial then doing rack lockouts?

twoody54-

I have learned over the years that there are so many ways to achieve your goals. The key is (as I sound like a cliche machine) is “to find what works for you.” How do you do that - try things.

As far as doing your rack lock-outs, I would recommend you also only attempt those merely several times a year. The advantage with those is that you can load your CNS to 110-120% of your 1RM! I believe these are more for strength than size, even more so than the partials. However, if you extended your TUT (time under tension) with these, you could get a hell of a mass-stimulus as well.

But, remember - design your work-outs on your goals. If it’s maximum strength, most sets should not be more than 10-15 seconds long. If it’s mass, you want longer TUT, upwards of 20-30 seconds. If it’s both, do a combination - heavy and brief early in the workout/week, moving to lighter and longer.

An addition to this topic is the rest pause theory. Where you use a combination of decently heavy weight and racked rest periods between each rep to achieve both strength and size gains. Typically, strength rest pauses are 30 seconds to a minute pause. Size pauses can be anywhere from 5 to 15 seconds… or so.

[quote]TopSirloin wrote:
twoody54-

I have learned over the years that there are so many ways to achieve your goals. The key is (as I sound like a cliche machine) is “to find what works for you.” How do you do that - try things.

[/quote]

I was just curious as to which has seemed to work better for you and your clients. It seems you would work more stabilizer muscles and you would feel more comfortable with the heavy weights (full reps) when you do the partial reps as you mentioned. However, doing the rack lock-outs I imagine allows for a greater load capacity and possibly better strength gain.

Yes I realize they should also be done rarely.

[quote]nArKeD wrote:

I don’t think you understand the purpose of the board and floor press. And the advantages of strong triceps and a bench shirt.[/quote]

Whatever. It’s like talking to a monkey.

Good stuff.

I’ve found that the majority of the benchers in my gym only go halfway down. They’re constantly preaching the benefits of saving their shoulders, but I honestly don’t think this is their reason for doing it.

I think, as mentioned above, that they like the quick fix to be able to bench more.

One gentleman came up to me on Monday after he saw that I was going to chest and was flabbergasted that I would endanger my shoulders by going all the way down. He then explained that he could get a 305 partial but could barely grind out a 225 from the chest. I think that tells the story right there.