Only the Strong

Benching for Strongmen


How does the bench press fit into strongman training? This seems to be a topic that comes up a lot for various reasons. The No. 1 question I get asked the most by the average person is, “How much do you bench press?” But most people who don’t train wouldn’t understand the difference between a 300-pound bench press and a 600-pound bench press. Now for the people out there who do lift weights, it’s easy to understand the difference between even a 300-pound and 400-pound bench press. So let’s talk about how training the bench press can be beneficial.

This is the most common big multijoint exercise for the upper body. It is a great way to improve strength and size. So why don’t more strongman competitors bench press? The answer is fairly simple. During strongman competition we always compete in events where we are standing and pressing something overhead. So the emphasis of press training is put on shoulder pressing; benching is commonly used only as a secondary exercise to help build overhead pressing strength.

I’ve mentioned before that I prefer doing close-grip bench press training because, in my opinion, it transfers over better to building upper body overhead pressing power. This is because a bigger demand is placed on the anterior deltoids and the triceps when doing close-grip benches. I also feel that it’s safer for most strongman competitors to take a narrower grip on the bar because there is a smaller risk of tearing the pectoral muscles, which has happened to a fair number of strongman competitors who try to show off by benching with a wide grip.