WSBB Blog: Max Effort Upper Main Exercise Selection for Beginners

Burley Hawk
Wed Feb 16, 2022

WSBB Blog: Max Effort Upper Main Exercise Selection for Beginners

Earlier in the week, we covered max effort lower exercise selection for beginners. Today, we will discuss which exercises are essential for beginners to include when building their max effort upper exercise rotation. As we mentioned before, exercise selection can make or break a Conjugate Method program.

When exercises are selected and organized correctly, you will experience great strength and physical capability improvements. When exercises are improperly selected and organized, you are on your way to training hell. At Westside, we understand that beginners are immediately overwhelmed by the amount of exercise variation in Conjugate style training. However, beginners need to note that much of the Conjugate training content they see is of athletes with multiple years of experience training Conjugate style.

As a beginner, you are fortunate to yield significant amounts of gains without going too crazy with the exercise variations. Should a beginner use specialty bars? Yes. Should a beginner use bands? Yes. Should a beginner regularly choose complicated exercises that utilize specialty bars and bands? No.

Exercise selection should always focus on getting the most out of an exercise before altering the exercise. For beginners, this means you will train using an even mix of basic barbell exercises along with some exercise variations that include specialty bars and accommodating resistance. Below, we will go over four movements we recommend beginners select when building their initial max effort upper exercise rotation.

Week One: Bench Press

The first week is simple; you’ll work up to a max effort bench press. The idea is to introduce the beginner lifter to the technical aspects of max-effort pressing. If you cannot safely perform a basic max effort bench press, it makes no sense to move on to more complicated press variations. You want to focus on technical execution, which means keeping the shoulders and pecs safe from unnecessary wear and tear. The powerlifting bench press is much different from the bodybuilding bench press, be sure to understand proper powerlifting bench press form.

Week Two: Floor Press

Now that the athlete has had the opportunity to familiarize themselves with a powerlifting style bench press, it is time to move on to a simple exercise variation: Floor press. The floor press allows a beginner lifter to experience the altered feeling and training effect associated with an exercise variation without putting their shoulders and pecs at risk.

The goal with the floor press is to focus on pressing the barbell with your arms, which is very important to understand if you want to increase your bench press ability. If you want to avoid shoulder and pec injuries, you need to learn to press with your arms, and the floor press is a great teacher.

Week Three: Incline Bench Press

The incline bench press is an excellent variation for beginners because it not only focuses on upper pec and shoulder strength it will also familiarize the beginner with pressing a barbell in an overhead direction. The incline bench press is beneficial as a bench press variation and will also prepare an athlete to press heavy weights in the overhead press.

Beginners can execute this exercise traditionally by pressing the bar off of your chest, or you can choose to press the bar off of pins at a set height. It can often be beneficial for lifters with shoulder issues to press from pins on an incline.

Week Four: Close Grip Bench vs. Minibands

Close grip bench is a great press variation for tricep and upper back development; minibands only make them more effective. The triceps are forced to contract through lockout with the added band tension, increasing the tricep training effect. Close grip bench is an exercise variation that holds an incredible amount of value, similar to how sumo deadlifts are valuable when building deadlift and squat strength.

It's simple, close grip bench builds the competition bench better than any other variation. For this reason, beginners should regularly feature the close grip bench in any Conjugate Method upper body training plan.

Final Word of Advice

The above-mentioned upper body exercises are the basic exercise variations we recommend to all beginners. These variations will provide a beginner with enough new stimulus to influence significant gains in strength without presenting too many obstacles or issues to navigate mentally or physically.

Remember, you always want to get the most out of an exercise before modifying the training effect. The goal is to become the strongest lifter you can, not to become a master at performing complicated movements. When last checked, no bench press contests seek to find the strongest three board versus monster bands bench presser, so make sure you select your exercises accordingly.

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