Chest Exercises

Bench Press Seminar 2: Armed for Strength

Contrary to popular belief, a big bench isn’t all about big pecs.


So you want to have a bigger bench? Normally, we’d tell you to get in line but in this case, we’ll just urge you to read on. In our first seminar on adding serious weight to your bench press totals, we learned about the value of Compensatory Acceleration Training (CAT), which calls for moving submaximal loads with maximal effort in order to trick your central nervous system into recruiting more muscle.

This week, we’re addressing a tactic that boosts bench totals indirectly. Arm training.

Arm Training Matters

Let’s face it: there isn’t a Muscle & Fitness reader out there that wouldn’t mind adding a little size to their arms. Vanity aside, let’s examine how bigger arms can boost your bench.

Strong triceps are extremely important to locking out heavy bench presses. For some people, weak triceps can seriously inhibit the amount of progress that can be made under the bar on chest day. If your tri’s are strong and well-trained – with the right balance of additional tactics that we’ll cover in the seminar – you are more likely to be a presser with totals on the upswing.

Obviously, the triceps are going to get the best work from compound movements like weighted dips, close-grip bench presses and close-grip decline bench presses. To fully develop a muscle, a variety of exercises and set and rep schemes need to be applied.

Single-joint movements for high reps should also be included to make your arms grow and support heavy weight for big bench presses. Additionally, high rep single joint movements are great for joint health as they keep articular cartilage lubricated, which permits healthy joint functioning. This is particularly important since heavy training – the kind that you want to do like a boss – can produce a lot of wear-and-tear on joints.