B is for Bench

I am a bit surprised to realize that I wasn’t nearly as nervous about this morning’s bench press session as I had expected to be. I was back at a commercial gym, and I managed to bribe my eldest son to come along as my spotter. It might have been harder to convince him to come with me than it was to actually bench, but I am glad that he did agree. He thought it was weird, but it would have felt weirder and more nerve-wracking for me to have had to ask a stranger to do it. Since I knew my son was already reluctantly agreeable, I decided to only do my bench pressing and band pull-aparts, which made for a short and sweet training session.

1a. bench press-competition grip, with legs and arch

45 lbs x 10, 65 x 6, 85 x 5, 95 x 3, 105 x 3, 115 x 3

125 x 1, 135 x 1

115 x 3

Today was my last heavy bench day. My coach’s instructions were to work up to 125-135 for singles without grinding or missing a rep. I’ve been mildly stressed all week thinking about the heavy singles. I knew I was capable of hitting both 125 and 135; however, I’ve only hit 135 pounds once and that was a couple of months ago. Even though I’ve always felt I was strong enough for more, my competition bench press has been stuck at 132.3 pounds since October 2015. Every time I’ve attempted to do more, I’ve failed and that has been frustrating. It’s messed with my head a fair bit, I think; so I have been nervous all week, wanting to hit 135 again but afraid that it wouldn’t happen, especially knowing that I shouldn’t even attempt 135 if 125 was slow. But this morning, I didn’t feel stressed out at all.

One positive to come out of my lengthy back pain battle is that I have done a lot of benching without an arch and without leg drive, which essentially put me in a less advantageous position, making pressing harder even with lighter weights. While I can’t say that 100% of my reps have been perfect, I have really dialed in my technique. It is more consistent, smooth and solid. Although we don’t test my maxes very often, we do believe that my bench is stronger. Okay, so sometimes Michael probably believes that more than I do! But I believed it today.

My warm-up sets all moved well. The single at 125 was fast and smooth, so I had no doubts about going up to 135. In the moment, the single at 135 felt a bit slow but decent, but it looks a bit faster in the video than it felt. Perhaps I can walk away from Provincials next week with a new bench personal and Provincial record!

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