I’m trying to build more power in my upper body for sports. Can you recommend any good exercises for this?
—Kent M, Houston, TX

One of the most effective and unique exercises for building upper-body power is the Smith machine bench-press throw. First, position yourself on a flat bench inside a Smith machine, arranged as though you were bench pressing. Lower the bar to your lower chest, then press the weight off your chest as explosively as possible to throw the bar up as high as you can. Catch the bar as it comes back down, lower it to your chest again, and proceed right into the next rep.

This exercise is great for building muscle power because the bar has to keep accelerating throughout the entire positive portion of each rep. By allowing the bar to leave your hands, you’re maximizing speed and power. Be sure to use a light enough weight that allows you to perform the toss properly—approximately 30% to 50% of your one-rep max should work well.

The Workout

Excercise Sets Reps Rest
Smith Machine Bench-Press Throw 3 3-5 2-3 min
Bench Press 3 6-8 2-3 min
Incline Dumbbell Press 3 6-8 2-3 min
Incline Dumbbell Flye 3 8-10 1-2 min

Quick Tip

Use an open grip in which your thumb doesn’t wrap under the bar to simplify the release and catch.