The Slow Lifts: Bench Press

By Mark Rippetoe

In Exercises

June 01, 2006

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The bench press is the best exercise for absolute strength in the upper body. So says Mark Rippetoe of The Wichita Falls Athletic Club/CrossFIt Wichita in part 4 of his series on the Slow Lifts.

The bench press allows the lifter to move heavier weights with the arms than any other exercise. It should be included in every barbell-training program. But it is not the only lift we should do, as is too often the case in typical gyms.

Benching provides hard active work for the chest, shoulders, and arms and isometric work for the forearms. It trains novice lifters the fundamental skill of pushing on a very heavy load, perhaps its most useful function. When people first start training, they have no experience with maximal effort. The bench press is a very good place to learn how to bear down and push hard, and this invaluable lesson translates to all the other slow lifts quite well.

There is a little trick I use to make the bar go to the right place, through the right path, every time. Find a place on the ceiling to stare at and nail your eyes to that place. This point will be your positional reference for the bar path and its lockout position over the chest. If you return the bar to the same position at the top of every rep, having touched the same place on your chest every time, you will find that your bar path is uniform as well.

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1 Comment on “The Slow Lifts: Bench Press”

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wrote …

Mark-
Excellent article. If you think you are the only one tired of what goes on in the standard gym, you are dead wrong. I cant think of anything funnier or more annoying than the loud mouth (insert your own expative) guys who would bench next to me, pushing less weight than me, while I would quietly pump out as much as possible as many time as possible.
Injury, and a refocus of my lifting priorities have cuased me to almost completely give up the bench press, or the other non-essential lifts for that matter (I cant remember the last time I had to get under the bumper of a car and press it up). I do however know how often I have to bend over and deadlift an item. I have found the ability to deadlift heavy has come in very handy when forced to lift an item off the ground that may be lighter, but unstable or cumbersome.
Mark, thanks for your posts, your interesting articles, and all the work and experience you bring to Crossfit.

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