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Building Starting Strength & Bench Press?


I am thinking about doing bench presses off of the pins in the squat rack by letting it rest on the pins and lifting it as fast as possible to help build my starting strength. But I don't know if starting strength is necessary for building a big bench press. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.


if your going to bench without a shirt in competition starting strength is very important...

you could also just pause the weight for a three count before pressing up to work on your starting strength...


Starting strength is important. pause reps help improve this.


I would do pause reps if I were you, I've done pin presses off and on in the past and they tend to be very rough on the shoulders.


I agree, since there's a tendency to alter your form a little in order to get the weight up with the bar starting on pins. Doesn't happen as much with pause presses from what I've seen.



My 2cents::

If possible perform a chain suspended press rather than pin press.

More equipment & setup time but there's no change in your benching technique which is important (depending the level you're at).

If you're not benching more than 4 plates I dont think this is too big of a deal... so with prudent planning (ie, training the rotator cuff, rear delt, upper back and overhead pressing)
You can rotate pin presses in for a while without seriously harming your shoulders. Off topic but, I'm of the opinion that well rounded training IS

If you were to work into a westside type protocal I would use something like this disclaimer-I'm not a PL and I tend to stray from the normal westside type exercises but these really work for me...put take it with a grain of salt (slashes denote superset)::

ME Day:
Pin Presses (for single or double)
Dbbell Bench press 5x8
Chest supported Row/lat pulldown 5x6/10
Bradford Press 3x8

DE Day:

Ballistic Bench Press 8x3
--use smith machine, bring weight(around 50-60% of 1rm) down to chest, pause for 5-8seconds and then EXPLODE, catch, pause, repeat for assigned rep range.

Close Grip Incline Bench (work to 5rm)
1 arm dumbbell hang snatches (5x2)
Weighted Pullups/ Weighted Dips (3x8)
-do muscle ups if possible... can be done on a bar as well. Check crossfit.

Hope that helps some.


Five big things will help starting strength in the bench press...

1) Wide pause benches
2) Pin Presses (or chain suspended presses) at the chest level
3) Heavy dumbell presses
4) Speed bench (w/ and without a pause)
5) Heavy ass back work.

Do these five things and your strating strength won't be a problem.



Everyone has had some great ideas so far the only thing I can add is to Overhead press a lot, I would say 2x a week. For starting strength in the raw bench your shoulders and back really come into play. Also check out "how to bench like a stripper" on elitefts.com
Good luck


It seems to me that a smith machine DE bench would be a bit counterproductive, given that a large portion of Dynamic effort work is nervous sytem training; a smith machine bench is not the same as a regular bench, thus you are training your nervous system for the wrong exercise. It's one thing to train your muscles with machines, training coordination with machines seems pointless.

It would make much more sense to use bands or chains.


Well you can't exactly do ballistic bench without a smith machine...


Why not. I do all the time and dont touch a smith machine.

two ways come to mind Bands use band tension you can explode and push just like a ballistic bench and even let go of the grip the tension of the bands keep the bar from leaving your hand,

Second way. ballistic push ups. add weigh in a back pack or x vest if needed and see how far you can project your self into the air,

Thats two very easy ways of doing ballistic becnh with out the smith coat rack.


As said by others, pressing off the rack can hurt your shoulders.

Use bands, and pause at the bottom of the rep then explode up.




Don't forget using a cambered bar as a weapon to increase your low-end starting strength


Dips on gymnastics rings.


It isnt counterproductive. You are only utilizing the smiths machine for one small part of an overall program. It may be different if you spent all of your time on the smiths machine, but a few sets of ballistics does not make a difference.