elitefts™ Pause Bench Press

TAGS: Pause Bench Press, presses, eccentric, concentric, time under tension, isometric, stretch reflex, stretch-shortening cycle, Elitefts Info Pages

Just about everyone loves to bench, and everyone incorporates this exercise into there workout regime.  Some of you probably guilty of incorporating a disproportionate amount of chest days into your training...  No matter, one great variation to your normal bench workout is performing a Pause Bench Press.  Raw Powerlifter, Meana Franco, is part of the elitefts™ team.  She performed the Pause Bench Press exercise in her most recent training log:

    • 45x8
    • 95x5
    • 125x3
    • 145x5
    • paused
    • 160x5x5

The concept of this workout is to increase your muscles' time under tension.  This is accomplished by mitigating your muscles' stretch reflex, also known as stretch-shortening cycle.  Dr. Michael Yessis wrote an in depth article on how to utilize the stretch reflex in training: The Stretch Reflex.

To perform a Pause Bench Press you must first lower the weight (eccentrically) in a controlled manner to your chest, or desired sticking point (i.e. 2 board, safety rack, or pad).  Once your sticking point is reached you "pause" there for an allotted specific amount of time, then concentrically contract to push the weight off your chest.

Strength Coaches that I have played under like to use the term "pause" or "stick" rather than "rest" because of the mental connotations each word brings to the athlete.  "Pause" and "stick" are better terms to use because of the importance for athletes to stay tight at the sticking point; "rest" causes the athlete to have a more relaxed mindset.  Staying tight at the sticking point will ensure your muscles' maximize their time under tension.  Not only is staying tight part of the exercise, it's also a safety precaution.  It is not ideal for these muscles to perform the concentric phase of the lift if just before, the muscles were relaxed as opposed to isometrically contracted.

The longer the "pause" (isometric contraction) is held for, the harder it will be to push the weight off your chest.  This portion of the lift, the isometric hold, is the mitigation of the stretch reflex.  Perform this exercise for specific reps and sets.

You can mitigate your stretch reflex and incorporate the "pause" alteration in numerous exercises with additional variables such as bands and chains.  Meana Franco performed this exercise with a grip wider than normal, while using an elitefts™ bench press; this exercise can also be performed with dumbbells.





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