Saturday, August 31, 2013

Benching More Without Benching More

Anyone familiar with the Westside method has likely experienced this first hand, but my athletes continue to find it so dumbfounding that it's worth sharing.

Last week one of my pitchers went to the gym with his buddies and discovered he could bench a lot more than he could in June, even though he didn't perform a single rep of traditional bench press all summer.

"How can that be?" he asked me.

Years ago in an old Deep Squatter FAQ, Louie Simmons wrote "use a series of exercises that work the target muscles in a 'whole is greater than the sum of it's  parts' scheme." I saw great results in college when Mark Watts introduced me to the Westside method and I've used variations of it with many of my clients. 

I considered my pitcher's training age, strengths, weaknesses, FMS results and game schedule and picked a combination of exercises that would strengthen his weak areas while also minimizing his risk of injury.

He performed a steady diet of floor press, neutral-grip dumbbell bench press, tricep pushdowns, a variety of rows and tons of upper back and shoulder work. Despite the absence of traditional benching in his program, when he rolled into that commercial gym with his buddies his chest, shoulders and triceps were much stronger, which in turn improved his bench max.


"Your muscles don't know the difference between a bench press and a floor press." I told him. We picked safer exercises, challenged your body to push bigger weights and it adapted."

As the year moves on and he hits a true off-season we may do some benching, but since he's had success both in the gym and on the mound without it there's no real need.

Do yourself a favor this fall. Drop the bench press for a couple months, read up on Louie's max-effort training, replace it with variations that hit your weak points and watch your numbers take off.

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