Got Bench?

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Got Bench?
By Dietrich Buchenholz
For EliteFTS.com
I don't care what gym you train at there's always that one question that, essentially, is used as a measuring stick of your masculinity; “How much do you bench?” And regardless of whether you weigh your bench in kilograms, pounds, or even buckets of galvanized nails, more is always better! You see, sometimes it doesn't matter how well you can debate on matters of scientific reference. Sometimes it doesn't matter what you know about “correspondence carryovers” to sport. Sometimes it is required that you seal your lid, grip the bar, and see how well you fair in the real world. It is times likes these that no one cares that you're a professor of sports science. No one cares about what you think you know. And, surely, no one listens to the smack you talk. The only thing that does matter is who wins the fight- you or the bar! The proof is in the pudding, friends, and this article is about giving you what it takes to become a bench press beast!
One-plus-One Equals Three?
As the readers of my book,”The Sports Book: Best Training Ever”, are fully aware, the bench press relies on a number of trainable factors rooted in the nervous system for utmost proficiency. The two most dominant are “neuro-duration” and “neuro-magnitude” functions of the athlete's “neuro-dynamic” system. This means, the size of your bench press depends on the size of your nervous system output and how long you can maintain that strain.
A neuro-duration dominant athlete can fight the lift for 5.5 - 9.0 seconds, or more, until lockout is achieved (clocked from start to finish of the entire lift). But, their system has been converted to be so efficient that the measure-of-output factor (neuro-magnitude ability) will be dumped to the wayside in order to make room for this efficiency adaptation. That is, you can't put out maximally for a maximal amount of time. In this case, one plus one equals two.
There is no doubt an athlete can be “hit or miss”. A neuro-magnitude dominant athlete will be programmed to fire on all cylinders, but this comes at the expense of time (i.e. neuro-duration ability). This type of presser will either hit the lift seemingly without effort or miss the lift when just about any significant strain comes into play. And, neuro-magnitude dominance/ neuro-duration deficiency increases as the time to complete a one rep max bench decreases below 3.5 seconds. In this scenario, also, one plus one equals two.
However, if the athlete can set up the proper training means to predominantly attack his deficiencies whilst preserving his strengths, the ultimate balance between output magnitude and available strain time exists. This is precisely when results are at their best! In other words, this synergistic effect allows one plus one to equal three!
The Split
There are a number of tests a practitioner can use to assess neuro-dynamic functions or profiles. But, in keeping with the scope of this article, only one test will be discussed. How long does it take you to lift a one rep max? If you're thinking that an increase in load will result in an increase in rep rate then you are only partially correct. At the individual level, this is true; the heavier the load, the slower the lift. But, and what is critically important, is that these are no reliable standards to go by. Every athlete will press the bar out in a different time frame. After coaching athletes for over 30 years, I have found that 4.5 seconds is the split; as time frames spread from this value, greater neuro-dynamic deficiencies exist. Also, keep in mind that a “deficiency” may show its' ugly head for one of two reasons: neglect or over-use. That is, the direct avoidance of particular training means can create a deficiency just as much as the over-use of particular training means. In other words, if you avoid neuro-duration work or over-train neuro-duration work then you will test to have a deficiency in the neuro-duration function. This is precisely why NO programming advice can be given or received without full appreciation and mastery of Auto Regulatory training management methods. Moving on, every athlete will fall into one of three categories: neuro-duration dominant (5.5 seconds and above), neuro-magnitude dominant (3.5 seconds and below), or indiscriminate dominance (3.5-5.5 seconds).
Training Programs
The best way to understand this concept is to visually express these terms and allow you the change to practically apply these fundamentals.
Neuro-Magnitude Emphasis
The first program we'll take a look at is for the athlete who is neuro-duration dominant. Meaning, he can strain for a long time but the supportive output to this strain time needs to be re-charged(i.e. intensified/magnified). A sample 26 day routine may look like this:

Session I:
RA: Bench Press (throws)
N x 15-25 cm
RA Bench Press(throws)
N x 35-45 cm
Iso SG Low Pulley Rows
N x 25-40 sec
OI Triceps
N x 25-40 sec
OI Biceps
N x 25-40 sec

Session II:
OI Pectorals
N x 25-40 sec
Iso Sub-Scap Pullup
N x 9-25 sec
OI Front Raise
N x 25-40 sec
Notes: 6% drop-off, 4 day scale; 5:1 toleration; d.o. rotation sequence as per usual.
As you can see, the emphasis is on bar speed, acceleration, and peak nervous system output via reflexive firing and reactive contractions.
Neuro-Duration Emphasis
Notice the difference between that program and the following sample program which is geared towards raising neuro-duration ability for the neuro-magnitude dominant athlete:
Session I:
Iso Bench Press
N x 0-9 sec
Iso Low Pulley Row
N x 0-9 sec
Iso Bench Press
N x 25-40 sec
Iso Low Pulley Row
N x 25-40 sec
IPM Biceps
N x 15-20/15-20/15-20 sec

Session II:
Iso Pectorals
N x 25-40 sec
Iso Prone Scap-Retractions
N x 9-25 sec
Iso Front Raise
N x 25-40 sec
Iso Triceps
N x 25-40 sec
Notes: 6% drop-off, 4 day scale; 5:1 toleration; d.o. rotation sequence as per usual.
Hopefully you can see that time is not the discriminate factor but, rather, the method of execution. Remember, as shock loading decreases neuro-duration function increases.
Mixed Regime
Of course, many trainees don't fall directly on one side of the line or the other. In instances such as these(i.e. 3.5-5.5. sec press) it is important to share the point of emphasis among training means. The following example better illustrates this concept:
Session I:
PIM Bench @ 74% AW 1RM
OI Barbell Row
N x 0-9 sec N x 5 sec
PIM Bench @ 63% AW 1RM
N x 5 sec
Iso Low Pulley Row
N x 25-40 sec

Session II:
IPM Bench
N x 15-20/15-20 sec
IPM Row
N x 15-20/15-20 sec
PIM Triceps
N x 25-40 sec
PIM Biceps
N x 25-40 sec

Notes: 6% drop-off, 4 day scale; 5:1 toleration; d.o. rotation sequence as per usual.
Notice that this last routine splits neuro-magnitude and neuro-duration emphasis into separate workouts so that concentration of each can be made.
Wrap and Release
Future articles will discuss how intricate examinations of work capacity detail will allow you to further select deficiencies that may or may not be present in the time-to-completion test. At any rate, individual training prescriptions, such as the ones above, will easily put 60 pounds on your bench in the next 60-90 days! That, my friends, is the power of individual specificity, of which cannot be found in special gadgets or gizmos alone. Release your potential- starting today!

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