T Nation

Raw Bench Training


Got a few questions for the guys that train (and compete) raw. Or anybody with ideas.

1) Do you do your reps paused?

2) What type of accessory work have you found most helpful?

Q1 came about because I am planning to bench x2 a week - one day with reps paused, other day touch and go (heavier). My ability off the chest is a weak point physically and admittedly psychologically but I have been told by much better (shirted) benches that their progress has stalled when they did all their raw reps paused.

Q2 is because the acc work I prioritized (military press = 70kg x4, db shoulder press 30s for reps, db rows with 50kg x reps, chins/pull-ups no real progress) have improved I don't really feel this has been of much help to my bench press.

Appreciate your responses. I have benched 105 kg paused, 110 kg touch and go @ somewhere between 71-72 kg.

  • Caleb


(1) No. I throw in some paused reps before a competition though, so that I can get used to however long a pause the federation uses. Also, I sometimes do paused reps on heavy accessory work (esp. rack lockouts and pin presses).

(2) In terms of pressing movements, I like anything that allows me to use heavier weight than I can handle on flat bench. Floor presses and pin presses are my standards. I also use incline presses, decline presses, and DB presses.

In terms of anything else, you need to hammer the back. For me, this means taking whatever rowing movement allows you to move the most weight (1-arm DBs for me) and treating it as if it's as important as your bench press -- that is, always push yourself for more weight. Plus use plenty of accessories (staples for me are wide-grip pullups, chins, and BB rows). I heartily recommend that you have a separate strength based back day, rather than sticking some random back exercises at the end of bench day, so that you can be sure to progress.


You are weak off the bottom because your lats are weak. You definitely need more lat assistance. Are you following any particular routine or is this a routine you came up with on your own?

Regarding pauses, it's good to do them. However, you don't have to let every rep sit on your chest. Sometimes when I am going above max I don't pause. I think of it kind of like an overload. You are just doing whatever it takes to get heavy weight in your hands and moving


you make a really good point. i don't do much pause work during my training. I find that pausing is more an act of strong lats and biceps. i can always tell when my assistance work is subpar when i have issues controlling the weight on the decent. with me, i find a very strong connection between my bent over row and control on the decent, tightness and ability to pause the weight. i do my best to keep my bent over row weight close to what i could bench for a set of 5 touch and go.


right now i bench twice a week, one day ME the other day using mostly db's for flat presses then neutral inclines and some shoulders, definitely hit the lats hard, kroc rows work well, heavy pulldowns wide grip, cable rows tbar rows bent over rows all that good stuff throw in beutral grip stuff on occassion to hit the tri's harder, thats my weak point being i bench closer grip so it depends on you though


I am following a program that was given to me by some Australian powerlifters. They were all geared lifters however.

Basically it has you benching twice a week at 2x3 @ 70%, 5x3 @ 80%. This followed by a close-grip bench / floor press and the back work is mainly one-arm rows and chins. Admittedly I have been a bit "whatever" in my back training and just do I feel like in terms of exercise choice (been doing a lot of seated cable rows lately).

I will post the whole split if that would help.


I am not trying to argue and say that my back is strong but in comparison to my bench I feel it is. I recently did bent over rows as my main back exercise for a 4-5 weeks and got up to a 110 kg x 5 stopped primarily due to grip. In comparison I recently benched 95 kg x 5 touch and go (and it was quite difficult).

It seems though that my back probably still isnt up to scratch cos I also do have issues with the descent of the bench press. Just how much back work are you (and others) doing?


post a vid of a near max attempt. you always start with form.


The view on these are not great but it's all I had on video for now:

^ At my first comp last year, missed 100 kg twice after this lift

^ Sorry about the balls view, a 110 kg touch and go a few months back

If I can get anything better I'll put it up.

Thanks everybody, appreciate the help and honoured to have such strong guys in this thread.


I'm guessing there is delay in when your post is displayed ?

Here is another, a missed 100 November 08


Caleb, I highly recommend this program. I have had great success with it as have many others. http://www.tmuscle.com/free_online_article/sports_body_training_performance/the_periodization_bible_part_ii

Also, you could definitely improve upon form. Your shoulders are hardly tucked if at all and you appear to have no leg drive.


What is this leg drive you speak of?

This has been rough for me to figure out as well...


This is the leg drive I speak of. I squeeze my glutes and drive through my legs. When pressing I keep my big toe up in my shoes just like I do when squatting. This helps me push up through my heels.


A couple thoughts:

  1. As someone else pointed out, it looks like you're getting no leg drive. You should be driving your legs for the entirety of every rep.

  2. On the balls-view bench you look loose and shaky. Therefore the suggestions of back work are very good. I have seen a huge increase in my bench from doing rows which a) replicate my bench form exactly, i.e. keep shoulder blades retracted and pretend you're doing a bench press in reverse and b) emphasize holding for a second or two at the end of each rep. Remeber, the "top" of the row is the same position as the bottom of your bench. If you learn to stay tight and strong in the first, you'll be tight in the second.

  3. Work on your arch.

  4. In terms of bar path, on that 100kg miss it looks like you could have gotten the rep if you had drifted over your face when you started to slow down. Obviously flaring out over your face is most helpful on shirted attempts, but I have found that it is also very important for grinding through near max raw presses.


Id take your grip out a bit.


It also looks to me that you dont squeeze your traps together, you can take out about an inch of ROM just by squeezing your traps in and tucking before the start time is called. Will also give you TONS of power


Much thanks for the replies guys. Will take into account.

Have started DeFranco's version of Westside. Will post again closer to comp time.

Went to watch a comp yesterday (Australian IPF Nationals), and my goodness the bench pause is long.

  • Caleb




ive never been able to hit bench 2x a week- for me it seems 1x is perfect. I do both pause and touch and go- sometimes the same day, sometimes not. sometimes i go slow, somtimes fast. I love bench tho.....wish i could do it 2x a week....