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Bench Press

Master the Floor Press

Happy take your girlfriend out to Dinner Day! Before you indulge in steak, seafood, bottomless Italian food, and wine (Boom-Pow!) I’ve got something for you– And it’s not a last minute savings on roses.

Nope, It’s much better.

It deals with the bench press and how to change the exercise to limit shoulder pain while maximizing gains in strength and size.

Master the Floor Press
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You see like most guys I’ve always gravitated towards the bench-press and full contact sports. Unfortunately, this is recipe for shoulder dysfunction and pain. But pain be damned, if I want to bench press, I’ll bench press whether it’s painful or not…right?
Not so fast.

I love the bench, but pushing up huge weights isn’t always practical or worth the risk or future injury. Instead, I’ve opted for a smarter option that still allows me to get my press on without pissing off my body– The Floor Press.

Yes, it’s as easy it sounds. The Floor press is performed while laying on the ground and is a great way to limit the range of motion that’s most impactful on the shoulder. In addition you take the lower body and any potential lower back pain out of the press by flattening the legs, still allowing you to build explosive strength in the triceps, chest, and shoulders.


Continue Reading  >>Master the Floor Press <<

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Dirty 30: Pecs of Steel

Be excited. Really excited.This week I’m rolling out FREE workouts for the entire week. Better yet, they only take 30 minutes: Less time than it takes you to drive to the gym. Each morning these kick-ass workouts will be posted and ready to use.

Building a steel-plated chest is one, if not the most, desired feature on guys. A big chest displays strength, power and dedication. Pec’s of steel can’t be concealed even in the most hideous Christmas sweater.


This workout will blast the chest with supersets, trisets, and drop-sets to build powerful pecs in with surgical precision. Muscles will be challenged through different angles and rep ranges to recruit the maximum number of muscle fibers.

Ugly sweaters be damned, master this 30 minute routine and it will be impossible to hide those armor-pleated pecs.


Superset 1

Close Grip Bench Press: The close grip bench press will hammer the fast-twitch muscle fibers and build significant strength in the upper body. The closer grip – will save the shoulders while still providing a challenge to the pecs. Perform four sets of six reps, moving immediately to plyo-push ups.

 Plyo Push-Ups: Plyo push-ups challenge the pecs, shoulders, and triceps to explosively push the body. In a push-up position lower yourself to the ground and explode as high as possible. Absorb the force and repeat four sets of six reps with 90 seconds between sets.

* Too difficult? Elevate your hands on the bench and perform reps. Squeeze your glutes for the entire set to improve core control and prevent the hips from sagging.

 SuperTriset 2

Set an adjustable bench at the lowest incline setting, 15-30 degrees. The bench will stay here for all three exercises.

Low Incline Dumbbell Flye: Pick a weight you can flye for 10-12 reps. Perform as many flyes with straight arms as possible.

Rest 15 seconds and proceed to Low Incline Dumbbell Presses *Flare Elbows. With the same weight perform bench presses with the elbows flared out, never bringing the dumbbells together. Leave one or two reps in the tank and rest for 15 seconds.

Perform Low Incline Press * Tuck Elbows with the same weight, except tucking your elbows and bringing the dumbbells together between reps. Perform as many reps as possible.

This tri-set produces tons of mechanical tension in the chest, fatiguing all muscle fibers and provided a huge muscle-building stimulus.

* Find a spotter for this exercise, otherwise, be very conservative with the weight. 

SuperTri Dropset 3

Drop set Push-ups: Elevate your feet on a bench press and perform as many controlled push-ups as possible. Just shy of failure, move your feet to the ground. Continue performing push-ups until failure. Now, elevate your hands on a bench and pound out the last couple of reps. Rest 90 seconds and repeat, if possible.

*Work to beat your total number each week. The pecs, arms, and shoulders will be completely gassed.



1a. Close Grip Bench Press 4×6 Rest 0

1b. Bench Plyo Push-Up 4×6 Rest 90 Seconds

2a. Low Incline Dumbbell Flye 3x Fail Rest 15

2b. Low incline Press * Flare Elbows 3x Fail Rest 3x 15

2c. Low Incline Press * Tuck Elbows 3x Fail Rest 60-90 seconds

3. Drop Set Push-Up 2x Fail, Rest 90 seconds

Wrap Up

Pecs of steel are universally treasured; that’s why they are commonly trained first in the week. Luckily, by training a combination of heavy-fast twitch stimulating exercises and time-under tension methods a powerful chest will be yours.  Time is no longer an issue: Thirty minutes is all you need to build powerful pecs of steel.


Happy Cyber-Monday
Last week kicked-off the Holiday shopping craze. Personally, I can’t
stand being in a mall this time of year and prefer to do my shopping online.
Because of this, I’ve decided I’m going to hook you up this ENTIRE WEEK.


This whole week I’m giving you a body-part blitz: A 30 Minute workout to hammer home any part of the body. Each morning these kick-ass workouts will be posted and ready for you to try.


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Strong. Shredded. Athletic.


Top 10 Tips to Add Muscle

tips to add muscle, high performance exercises

I’m going to keep this simple and straight forward.  If you’re not building muscle, you’re probably missing the basics.

1. Eat Big to Get Big

You can’t put 60 miles worth of gasoline and drive 120 miles can you? Providing your body with the essential calories and nutrients is rule #1. You will be working hard in the gym, you not only need to provide enough calories to fuel your workout, but you also need a caloric surplus in order to gain weight. For each meal aim for 1-2 fistfuls of protein (30g or so), 2 fists of vegetables, healthy fats, and carbs such as sweet potatoes or rice. Track what you eat using a site such as livestrong.com and consider reading up on carb cycling to maximize muscle and minimize fat.  Supershakes are a convenient and easy way to pack your body full of quality nutrients for muscle growth.

2. Progressive Overload

To build muscle you must follow the laws of progressive overload. You must continuously work to add weight to the bar, increase the speed you move the bar, increase the number of reps, or decrease rest periods each time you set foot in the gym. Give your body a reason to grow by challenging to a new level every chance you get (within reason), repeating the same workout pound for pound and word for word will not help yield the gains you are looking for.


3. Stick with Compound Exercises

Mixing in endless amounts of curls, leg extensions, calf raises, and lateral raises will do little more than delay your recovery and hinder your progress. Stick with squats, deadlifts, presses, bench presses, chin ups, dips, hip thrusts, and rows to build a well rounded physique. Major structural exercises like these will work the most muscle mass and stimulate the biggest release of testosterone to fuel your muscle growth. You don’t need gimmicky machines, cable crossovers, and shiny new equipment to get the job done; they are often a waste of time. Pay your dues with a barbell, kettlebells, dumbbells, and your own bodyweight to move your body the way it was built to move.


4.  Train Heavy

Training heavy is becoming a lost art in many gyms. I see so many people training every exercise at 12-15 reps chasing the pump that it makes me sick. Most individuals tend to follow body part splits with crazy high volume and rep ranges that only work for beginners and/or steroid users. Most drug free lifters make phenomenal gains by putting more weight on the bar and focusing on rep ranges between 3-8. Anything over 8 reps really begins developing endurance unless you can handle significant weight for reps. Bottom Line: If you add 50 pounds to your squat or a deadlift in a year you will be bigger, add weight and see magic happen!


5. Get In Get Out

Workouts are meant to stimulate, not annihilate the body. Get in a solid warm up and try to complete your workout in 45 minute or less. You are in the gym to work out and see results, not socialize in-between sets on the preacher curl. Get in, get out, eat, and repeat.

6. Sleep 8+ Hours

You need to recovery to grow, and optimal growth and recovery comes with getting 8+ hours of sleep per night. Sleeping well and long will increase your testosterone naturally while giving you more energy and making you more efficient throughout the day. Turn off the TV and get some sleep

7. Foam Roll

Staying healthy and recovering from workouts is absolutely vital to making consistent progress in the gym. Foam roll troubled areas such as the shoulders, pecs, IT bands, calves, and piriformis to improve movement quality. Pick up a foam roller or use tennis balls, baseballs, softballs (ouch), medicine balls to break up scar tissue. If you are financially able try to get a deep tissue massage once per week.


8. Incorporate SOME higher reps into your training

The emphasis on your training still needs to be on lower repetition multi-joint exercises to build muscle. However, increasing reps on occasion to 10-15 reps will increase your muscles ability to store glycogen and water. This will add volume to the muscle and increase their size. This is known as non-functional hypertrophy. If you goal is solely aesthetics and not strength/power mix 1-2 exercises per workout with a higher volume. Just be aware this can compromise your performance on big lifts!


9. Keep a Workout Journal

Writing down your workouts and tracking your progress is incredibly important to make consistent gains in the gym. How in the heck will you know when you have a new PR, or when you increased your reps by 5 on your squat from 2 months ago? Keeping a detailed workout journal will show you exactly what has worked in the past and what has not. Your workouts will improve and so will your knowledge of how your body reacts to different workouts.


10. De-load every 6-8 weeks

De-loading the muscles and nervous system every month or two will keep you healthy and mentally fresh in the long term. Muscle building is not an overnight ordeal, it takes years to build and smart programming. Take a complete week off on occasion, drop your intensity, or your volume for a week to allow joints, ligaments, and the nervous system to health up.

The Top 10 Tips to Add Muscle

Lift heavy, eat, sleep, repeat to get the gains you want. By taking these tips and focusing on 1 at a time until it becomes common practice will bring your training and physique to where it wants to be.
And if you’re looking for a program to get rollin,’ I’ve got you covered here.

Get Your 12 Week HFT Mass Program Today

Total Body Exercise Selection

Total body workouts are the most time efficient manor in which to design a resistance training program. The entire body is designed to work in synchrony, with some muscles stabilizing while others contract to create movement.

Most trainers and trainees look for a list of muscles stating whether they are prime movers or stabilizers to design a body part split. Unfortunately, this fails to recognize that the role of muscles often change depending on the bodies position and the joint in action.

This leads to un-balanced programming issues such as imbalances in flexion versus extension, more upper body pushing than pulling, and neglecting deeper muscle tissues and focusing solely on the superficial muscles of the body.

To combat against poor programming total body workouts are designed based upon movement patterns.

Some of the patterns I typically use are as following:

Upper Body

Horizontal Pushing

Vertical Pushing

Horizontal Pulling

Vertical Pulling

Lower Body

Knee Dominant

Hip Dominant

*** Also included are various unilateral variations of each movement, core stabilizing (mostly anti-rotation exercise), additional mobility work and total body combination exercises such as a clean and jerk or thruster.

A sample program I may design would be based upon having an upper body push, upper body pull, and a lower body lift.

Day 1:

1a.Pull (Horizontal) – 3 Pt Dumbbell Row

1b. Core Stabilization- ½ kneeling cable lift

2a. Lower Body (Knee Dominant)-Front Squat

2b. Mobility- Wall Ankle Mobilization

3a. Push (Vertical) – 1 arm Standing DB Press

3b. Upper back work- Rope Face Pulls (90% of all trainees could use more!)

Conditioning Work

Body weight circuits, sled work, strongman circuits

Day 2:

1a. Push (Horizontal) – Low incline bench press

1b.Mobility/Corrective Movement- Scapular Wall Slides

2a. Lower Body (Hip Dominant) – Conventional Deadlift

2b.Core Stabilization- Squat Stance Palloff Press

3a. Pull (Vertical) – Neutral Grip Chin Up

3b. Upper back work/rear delt- DB Rear Lateral Raises

Conditioning Work

Stairs, Sled Pushing/ Pulling

Upper Body workouts are my preferred method of program design for most populations. I have seen good success on as few as 2x per week using this template, but have also gone up to 4x per week with more trained individuals.  Mix and match exercises to get a well rounded workout and include necessary non-fatiguing assistance work to bring up weak areas. Use multiple rep ranges for each body part to hit more muscle fibers and develop a well rounded and trained body.

Copyright 2012 by Eric R Bach.  All rights reserved.  This material may not be duplicated or distributed without written consent from the author.

Big 4: Bench Press

Welcome to the second installment of the Big 4 lift series. This series is comprised of four major barbell lifts that are extremely efficient at building strength, power, confidence, and an impressive physique. The big four are the deadlift, squat, overhead press, and the bench press. This second installment of the series will cover the most glorified lift of them all, the bench press.


While the bench press is commonly deemed not” functional” ( whatever the fuck that means) as the other exercises included in this series, it’s a proven to be an awesome strength builder. When performed correctly, the bench press is be a great exercise that significantly challenges the lats, deltoids, pecs, and triceps. In addition, for those who train for a big bench, building a massive yoke (upper back for the newbs) for a better base of support is vital to success and long term shoulder health.

Every Monday I observe the esteemed bench press takes center stage in the gym.  Flocks of meatheads head to the gym to perform endless sets of bench presses in a futile attempt to fill out their affliction T-shirts. Oddly enough, this same ritual is performed Wednesday, and Friday by this same group, in between sets of preacher curls.

Unfortunately, this huge emphasis placed on bench press has led to an epidemic of shoulder dysfunction and injury. For this reason many professionals to have a negative view of the bench press both from a functional standpoint as well as an injury standpoint. The bench press is a vital cog in well rounded strength training program for athletes looking to get significantly stronger; however, care and intelligent programming must be used to avoid shoulder dysfunction.

First, from a functional view point, I agree that the bench press is not the most functional exercise. No matter how good an athlete the lifter is, it is impossible to come close to replicating what they bench press in a push from a standing position. Second, the scapula (shoulder blades) are locked in place against the bench and which does not allow a full, healthy range of motion about the shoulder. This removes the serratus anterior from receiving stimuli and further devalues the bench press in terms of functionality. This lack of range of motion in conjunction with a disproportionate volume of pushing versus pulling that most lifters perform has led to numerous dysfunctional shoulders. To preserve function, health, and symmetry of the upper body exercises focusing on the scapula retractors and external rotators should receive extra focus. Sample exercises include all row variations, Y-T-W raises, face pulls, band pull-aparts, and rear delt raises. Perform these before workouts and/or between sets on non-maximal pressing days.

Functional jargon aside, the bench press is a mainstay in fitness and has proven time and time again to be a cornerstone of countless successful lifting programs. Like any other exercise proper programming and technique are vital in remaining injury free.

Below are vital tips to performing the Bench press safely and successfully.

The Set Up:

  • Tuck your feet underneath you and drive you heels into the ground.
  • Tighten up your traps. The shoulders should be pulled down and squeezed together to form a base of support from which to press from.
  • Squeeze the bar as hard as possible as this will increase muscle activation in the entire body. For a test squeeze your hands as hard as you possible (YES RIGHT NOW), you will feel your arms, lats, traps, pecs, and delts all fire at once.
  • When un-racking the bar, pull it out rather than pressing it out to keep your tightness and maintain your lockout position for 1-2 seconds before the descent. This lockout tightens the back further, giving you a better base to push from.
  • Look dead ahead at something stationary, not your weak arm or anything else.

Eccentric Phase:

  • Begin the lift negative portion of the lift by descending first with the elbows.
  • Keep the chest high (back tight, thoracic extension) and pull the bar apart (row the bar to your chest).
  • Touch the bar on the same spot of your chest each time! Elitefts CEO and Westside Barbell legend Dave Tate recommends chalking the middle of an empty bar and performing weight-less presses. If the chalk forms a straight, even line you are set to go and add weight.

Concentric Phase:

  • Push yourself into the bench, trying to get as far away from the bar as possible.
  • isometrically squeeze the glutes, back, and legs while driving the heels into the ground
  • Keep the elbows and wrists in line with the bar, you need to push up in a straight line to most efficiently move the weight and lock out the elbows without losing the arch or upper back tightness

Miscellaneous Tips

  • Imagine the bar will crush you if you do not press it up, explode on each rep.
  • Each rep should feel the same regarding bar trajectory and bar speed, practice every rep as if it is a maximum attempt.
  • Consider investing in a pair of wrist wraps. Once you put significant time under the bar and press significant weight your wrists will thank you.

The bench press will always have its naysayers and pundits, but fact is that it is a proven power lift and remains a mainstay in gyms worldwide, especially in the US.

The key to successfully integrating the bench press into a workout routine revolve around performing the exercise with proper technique, appropriate loading, and an abundance of back work to remain injury free and proportionally built.

Save the shoulders and boost bragging rights by sharing this with friends and family!


Eric Bach, CSCS


Baechle, Thomas, and Roger Earle. Essentials of Strength and Conditioning. 3rd. Champaign: Human Kinetics, 2008. 358. Print.

Green, Nate, “Dave Tate’s Six-Week Bench Press Cure.” T-Nation.com. T-Nation LLC, 5/19/2009. Web.  27 Feb 2012. http://www.tnation.com/free_online_article/sports_body_training_performance/dave_tates_sixweek_bench_press_cure

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