“This is a perfect workout for sports,” says Louie Simmons, owner of Westside Barbell in Columbus, Ohio. “The volume is going to be extremely high and the intensity zone extremely low—about 40-45 percent.”
The speed bench-press workout consists of 16 sets of 3 reps using 185 lb. on the bar and 85 lb. of bands at the top of the lift. Lifters press every 30 seconds for 4 sets, then rest 1 minute and repeat. The sets are performed using different grip positions. Powerlifter John Kerr demonstrates the proper technique.
Simmons points out some coaching points, including that the bar should travel in a straight line to the chest.
“That eliminates injuries and utilizes the triceps and upper back,” he says.
Another coaching point is in the speed of the movement: “No slow eccentrics. Always lower barbells fast—sets the stretch reflex up,” Simmons says. “As you increase velocity, not mass, you increase kinetic energy. That’s what we’re after.”
Simmons also emphasizes midline stabilization and says the goal is to develop explosive power.
“Explosive power is shown in the fastest increase in strength in the shortest possible time,” he says. “You have to remain explosive in a fatigued state in sports.”
After coaching Kerr through a speed bench-press workout, Simmons has his athletes demonstrate accessory movements like dumbbell bench press, which develop power and help to avoid overtraining.
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Additional reading: The Westside Conjugate System by Louie Simmons, published June 22, 2011.