Monday, April 14, 2014

How To Prepare For Bench Press Day

    It's no secret that the bench press is the Holy Grail of the gym... Ok honestly, it's actually overrated, dead lifts, squats, and dumbbell bench press are better... But nothing beats the thrill of having over 300 pounds hovering over your body with only two arms and two pectoral muscles supporting it as it descends and touches your sternum right over your most vital organs... As you push it up you feel the exhilarating thrill known as the pump, and with each new rep record you achieve you slowly but steadily grow as pillar member of your gym. But if you think it's just as easily as going in and getting under the bar, you need to make some changes... Here's my tried and true Bench Press Ritual, to add maybe a little bit, or maybe a lot a bit to your lift.


    This is the first pillar you must accept. "But Joe, if everyone is doing bench on Monday I'll have to wait for a bench!" Yep, it sucks, but that's life. Catholicism celebrates mass on Sunday, Shabbat in Judeasim is on Friday, in Muslim Salat must be done two to four times a day daily. People that follow these religions don't get to pick and choose what days they want to do it, so in the gym, you need to accept that our Holy Monday is sacred, and it is the day to bench press. Now I'm going to make your life even harder... Bench press day is Monday, but you really need to start Saturday morning.


    As you wake up hungover or refreshed Saturday, it's time to start thinking about Monday's chest workout. You will avoid anything but legs, and cardio over the weekend, we need the chest as fresh as possible, and we will need your mind as fresh as possible, that also means that Saturday night you cannot drink my second favorite beverage, beer (water is my first). You must leave your mind, and health clean for Monday, and of course this means no Sunday funday either. Saturday's diet other than not drinking is not super relevant, don't eat too much, and don't starve yourself. Sunday is another story. I still firmly believe in my 8th grade science class lessons of carb loading the day before a big race. Getting in some complex carbs on Sunday is key to having energy on Monday. Now both days, you are going to do supplement depletion. Whatever you are taking, up to and including coffee, or caffeine, stop. This may be difficult based on lifestyle, but make every effort to not taking and supplements Saturday or Sunday, this will give your body a chance to lose tolerance, and make them stronger on Monday. Go to sleep Sunday at a decent time.


    Adjust based on your schedule, but you should get the idea based around mine. I celebrate Holy Monday at 2:30pm roughly, so my schedule Monday rolls like this:

7:00am - 8:00am: Wake up, drink one or two egg drinks, 4-8 eggs, half yolk, half whites. Half a banana, some cinnamon for flavor with water. Cup of coffee after, supplements if I'm taking any.

9:30am-10:00am: Have another coffee or low carb monster

10:30 to 11:00am: Drink a vegetable/fruit drink. 3 veggies, two fruits. Supplements if applicable.

11:30am: Drink a big glass of water, you should have to piss multiple times before you even get to the gym.

12:00pm: Lunch, (I eat a light lunch since I am going at 2:30pm, the meal before workout should not be heavy as you don't want to waste energy on digestion). So lunch is usually a chicken breast, maybe some brown rice if I'm starving. Add a glass of water too.

Your Bench Press Shirt: I'm not talking about an expensive actual power lifting bench press shirt. I'm talking about the shirt that is going to make you bench more psychologically. And no, I am not kidding, for the last decade plus 90% of the Mondays, I have worn my ratted, old, and torn Empire Fitness Brooklyn, NY shirt on bench day. It represents what started me in fitness, where I met some of my life long friends, and to this day the greatest gym I ever trained in (long gone since May of 2004).

1:30pm: You have one hour to go, but the time to mentally warm up is now. Listen to music, play music, watch videos of Arnold, punch the wall, yell at yourself in the mirror, whatever it is that YOU do to warm up your mind, start it now. Oh and one more low carb monster isn't gonna hurt! 

2:15pm: Unless the gym is really far, jog, or bike there, easy pace to start warming up.

2:30pm: Enter the iron temple. Choose your lucky locker. Are you shitting me Joe? No I am not shitting on you! If locker #23 is available, 23 is my lucky number, and it's game on to take that locker! Every piece of bench press day counts! Bonus tip: get on the scale and do a pre workout weigh in!

2:35pm: Now it gets complicated based on your plan for the day, are we lifting heavy? Are we going for high reps? Cutting? Bulking? Etc. But either way a key point I see EVERYONE MISS, is that our number one thing to injure in the gym is the shoulder! Injuring the shoulder is as universal as benching on Monday! Before you even touch the bench pick up a 5-10lb dumbell and do some easy lateral raises, front, or side, doesn't matter, just get blood flowing in to prevent shoulder injury. I don't care if your max is 405lbs or 95lbs, your first set on any of the benches (you likely will start with flat or incline), is the bar for 15 reps. Besides getting blood flowing it is waking the autonomic muscles to realize it's bench day. On super heavy days I may do as many as 6 warm ups sets, with light delts in between, but at a BARE MINIMUM, you should get 3 in. You don't need to take 5 minute rests between these sets, but the idea is to just slowly build to the weight you are doing. Oh another bonus tip, if you have multiple benches at your gym, choose the one that has the most public view, this is not so much to show off as much as it is to put yourself under absolute pressure not to fail. The big dude you want to grow into will see you fail, the sleezy sales trainer you don't like will see you fail, the hot girl you always see come in with the pink sneakers will see you fail, so guess what? Don't fail!!!

   My strategy, at this point, which works for me and may not work for everyone, is if I am going light, I am actually going to go a lot heavier first, if I'm trying to rep out 225 for 25 reps, I may do a set of 275 for 4 very slow reps, or maybe 315-335 for one. This is to prime the muscle, and to make 225 feel like a feather weight when I get under the bar. If I am going very heavy, I'll follow a standard power lifting pyramid. Same for a standard body building day.

3:35pm: You are exiting the gym in celebration mode, but the party is not over yet, high five the desk girl on the way out, just a high five, no talking to her, she is too young for you cowboy. Jog, or bike home.

3:45pm: PROTEIN!!!!!!

3:55pm: Text message ALL of your friends you had an amazingly perfect chest day, include your parents, grandparents, children if you have em, and siblings even if they don't work out. Call your friend in another state that did chest and review what went right and what went wrong and why it may not have been amazingly perfect.

5:00pm-bedtime: Continue eating a good dinner/following meals, and have another protein drink before you go to sleep.

Bedtime: Program yourself to dream about next Monday's chest work out. If you have a significant other in bed with you, ask her to kiss your pecs good night.



Feel free to email me with any questions!

Twitter: FitnessGround0

Arizona Fitness at Inbox dot com

This article is solely opinion of the author and written for entertainment purposes only.
Consult a doctor or medical professional before beginning any fitness, diet, or weight training program.

No comments:

Post a Comment