How to add weight to your bench and not get hurt (w/example program)

I actively competed in an average of 3 meets per year for over 20 years, from 1995 to 2016, without ever having a serious injury. I benched over 600 @ 165 in at least 5 equipped meets. Here’s video of my heaviest bench of 622 @ 165 at the 2009 APF Senior Nationals:

Here's video of the 2011 Raw Nationals including my best raw meet bench of 352:

A big part of what helped me prevent injury was training through a gradually increasing ROM with the correct corresponding percentages which evolved into my M2 Method and the M2 Equipped Method.

Here’s an example of one of the 4 week Raw Bench Cycles that I have found to be most effective for my clients:

Week 1- 3 Board:
87.5% x 3
90% x 3
92.5% x 3

Week 2- 2 Board w/chains:
65% + 40 lbs of chains x 3
65% + 80 lbs of chains x 3
65% + 120 lbs of chains x 3

Week 3- Reverse Light Band Full ROM Bench:
92.5% x 3
95% x 3
97.5% x 3

Week 4- Straight Weight Full ROM:
77.5% x 3
80% x 3
82.5% x 3

The exercises, percentages, and rep ranges will vary depending on the lifter but this gives you a good idea of how it’s structured.

This program not only reduces stress on the joints by limiting the ROM, it stimulates the CNS by allowing you train with heavier percentages. Even with these benefits I feel the most beneficial aspect of this program is that it’s interesting, provides variety, and prevents the monotony of performing the same motion week after week.

Other than following a training method that reduces joint stress you also need to make sure to use proper technique. Allowing your upper back to round and your shoulder blades to protract shifts the weight off of your pecs and delts and onto your rotator cuffs. This is one of the most common technique mistakes I see from lifters not only on bench, but other upper body movements as well. Actually, sometimes it’s an issue on lower body exercises (especially squats) as well.

In an attempt to help prevent this issue and to allow for lifters to strengthen their weaknesses I designed The Powerloop. The Powerloop not only helps you to correct this technique issue, but to strengthen the muscles to keep it corrected. Unlike just using a mini band, the Powerloop has multiple settings (loops) to adjust the resistance and can be used for lower body exercises and mobility work as well.

Here’s Bench Specialist turned all time great Powerlifter Jason Coker @jcoker220 benching 320 for 6x6 with the Powerloop:


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Regardless of what level you're at, finding a program that you enjoy and methods to perfect your technique will be incredibly beneficial.

Purchase your own Powerloop here: The Powerloop

The M2 Method Raw Training Ebook

The M2 Equipped Training Ebook

The OBB Power Handles

The Effective Floor Based Home GHR

12 Weeks to a Bigger Bench EBook

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