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Benchmark of Upper Body Strength

CrossFit's spin on bench pressing is as sadistic a workout as you'd imagine.

Rob Orlando
Benchmark of Upper Body Strength

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The bench press is one of the most common barometers of physical strength, yet it remains one of the most infrequently used exercises in all of CrossFit. Why? In short, CrossFit is founded on functional movements characterized by their ability to produce power. By performing lifts that require the athletes to move large loads over long distances quickly, CrossFit programming guarantees that workouts achieve the highest level of intensity. Due to its relatively low power output as compared with a snatch, thruster, or clean, the bench press is seen less often in CrossFit, but it’s still performed because of its obvious effect on upper-body strength.

One CrossFit workout in particular uses only the bench press. The workout is simply 10 heavy singles—not including any warmup reps or sets. Once you get into the working sets, pick your own load and rest as needed between efforts. Remember, each single is meant to be as heavy as possible. You can adjust the weight as needed after each single or you can use the same load for all sets. The workout is designed to build strength and is also used to test pressing strength over repeated efforts, so there's an endurance component too. 

A Benchmark WOD

Another CrossFit workout that uses the bench press is Lynne, a benchmark WOD named after a small but mighty powerlifter who discovered CrossFit in 2003 and is still a member of the CrossFit headquarters staff. This workout bearing her name was first posted to crossfit.com in April 2005 and consists of five rounds of as many bench-press reps as possible at your own body weight, followed by max reps for pull-ups. You can rest as needed between movements and rounds; there is no time element to this workout.

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