WSBB Blog: Building a Raw Bench Press The Westside Way
Time to Read: 4min
How much do you bench? This is one of the most common questions you will hear if you walk into any gym. Having the ability to bench press massive weights has always been a fast way to get respect in the gym, and as a powerlifter it is a skill that is absolutely necessary to build the biggest total possible. At Westside, we have a tremendous amount of experience producing some of the strongest bench pressers on the planet.
With guys like George Halbert who benched 635lbs raw at a bodyweight under 242lbs, to raw lifters like Chris Spegal and Burley Hawk who have both benched over 600lbs raw in competition, we have proven the Conjugate Method’s effectiveness for bench press training.
One thing you will learn if you train for more than a month at Westside Barbell is that we like to utilize exercise variations to avoid accommodation, and specifically challenge our lifters by prescribing exercise variations that attack their weaknesses. The first order of business is to focus on tricep development. Strong triceps are absolutely necessary in order to build a strong bench press.
You would be hard pressed to find a lifter with a bench press that is worth a shit that has small triceps. We train the triceps in a variety of ways, with our preferred movements being close grip bench press, JM press, rolling dumbbell tricep extensions, and cable pressdowns using different attachments. We will also perform high rep sets of extensions using light weights or bands to “burn out” the triceps towards the end of the accessory workout.
The next order of business is to build up the chest, shoulders, and upper back. To do this, we utilize a variety of press variations to attack the chest and shoulders, followed by row variations to focus on upper back strength development. Singles versus bands, floor press, overhead press both seated and standing, and close grip bench are common max effort upper main exercises.
Our preferred upper back training accessory exercises include conventional barbell rows, Pendlay rows, high pin heavy rack pulls, dumbbell rows, and pull-ups. Including these types of exercises in your main exercise and accessory exercise selection will ensure you add the proper size and strength necessary to press massive weights. When it comes to set and rep selection, we work up to max singles for almost all of our max effort upper main exercises.
If volume bench press work is necessary we add that in on dynamic effort upper in place of conventional speed bench. For accessory work, we recommend three to five sets per exercise, using rep ranges of six to ten for heavier sets, or twelve to fifteen for lighter sets.
When it comes to producing heavy raw bench presses, Westside knows the way. For years, we have been producing some of the strongest bench presses in the sport, both raw and geared. Not only have we pressed insane weights in competitions, some of the max effort upper training days that have happened in this gym would defy what many believe to be possible.
If you are interested in additional programming and further information regarding how we train the bench press at Westside Barbell, we encourage you to utilize our Conjugate Club service. As always, stay strong.