The Bench and I

For the next several weeks, Wednesday is all about the bench press. It’s a little strange to basically be doing one thing each training day, as I am used to doing bench twice a week; however, I’m really just happy to go to the gym and be able to do something. If Michael really wanted to torture me, he’d simply have to tell me to sit in the gym and do absolutely nothing. Thankfully that is reserved for the days right before competition.

1. bench press

Michael wanted to play around with my grip a bit to see which was stronger for me. I’ve previously used a narrow grip, but I’ve been working a wider grip since the end of April and it has been feeling rather good.

43 x 8, 63 x 5, 78 x 3, 93 x 2, 100 x 1, 105 x 1 all with the wider grip

Michael also had me work on expanding my chest with a big intake of air before bringing the bar down to my chest. I believe he said doing that took off about an inch, although I really couldn’t notice much of a difference. The reps were good, solid and fast.

95 x 1, 105 x 1 with the narrow grip

Michael expected to see more of a difference in my effort between the two grips, but he was a little perplexed to not see it. To be honest, I couldn’t even say which felt easier! Both reps at 105 pounds flew up. The rate of perceived exertion was about 7 which means I could have done a few more reps at that weight. Even though both felt similar, I would have to say that I think that overall I prefer the wider grip. Michael pointed out that I don’t have a sticking point with the wider grip once I get the bar moving off my chest. I hadn’t thought about that until he mentioned it, but he’s right. Plus, the wider grip seems to feel more stable, although maybe that’s because I’ve been doing mostly wide grip recently. Whatever the case, for now we will stick with the wide grip as my competition grip.

93 x 8 wide grip, 93 x 8 narrow grip, 93 x 7 wide grip

I couldn’t get that eighth rep on the final set. I thought I could. Michael thought I could. It’s okay that I didn’t. After all, competition isn’t about multiple reps.

2a. Spoto press-wide grip with about a 2-second pause

75 x 6, 75 x 6, 80 x 7

This was the first time I’ve done these presses, but they got better with every set. I was half-way through the final set, when I remembered that we had added weight to the bar and that these should feel heavier. The last set was the easiest and the best.

2b. chest-supported barbell rows-wide grip like my bench

75 x 12, 85 x 10, 85 x 12

In between my bench sets, Michael had me do 15 band pull-aparts. At some point the band created a blister in the fleshy area between the thumb and index finger of my right hand…and ripped it before I even realized a blister had formed. I had to adjust my grip for the pull-aparts, but I can handle a little bit of pain and discomfort.

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