Archives For Bench Press

I hit two big PR's this past week (among many).

Got a 550 lb low bar squat, which was a goal I wanted to reach for my new years resolution.

Also nailed a very smooth 400 lb reverse grip bench press, which is a milestone weight and puts in the 400 lb bench press club!

Here they are:

Low Bar Squat: 550 lb x 1 (1RM)

Reverse Grip Bench Press: 400 lb x 1 (1RM)

Really surprised at how super smooth this went!


The Perfect Rep

With the 550 lb squat and the 400 lb bench press I did a few days ago, they both felt like the perfect rep.

It felt like the bar moved perfectly inside the groove during the rep, everything is "on", and I just nail it.

No struggle, no missteps, no grind.

Just a perfectly executed rep from beginning to end, using a load that I've never successfully completed before.

Feels good.

I'm not very articulate today, but maybe this feeling is similar to Dwight Schrute's "Perfectenschlag":

Actually, it's probably more similar to Samuel Ander's description of "perfection" from Battlestar Galactica (Season 4, Episode 19: "Daybreak" Part 1:

If you want to know the truth...I don't really care about the stats. Or the cup, or the trophy, or anything like that. Um, in fact, even the games aren't that important to me, not really. What matters to me is the perfect throw...making the perfect catch...the perfect stepping block.

Perfection is what it's about.

It's about those moments when... you can feel the perfection of creation. The beauty of physics, the wonder of mathematics. And all the relation of action and reaction. And that is the kind of perfection I want to be connected to.

I want to experience more perfect reps.

Other PRs

Reverse Grip Bench Press: 300 lb x 9 (9RM)

Pecs and shoulders feeling sore and worn out, so I decided to do my warm up (missed at 370 lb though; usually it's no problem) and then rep out as many as I could with 300 lb.

Previous max number of reps at 300 lb was 7. Would have settled for 8 reps for an 8RM, but I went for 10. But after the shaky 9th rep, I was pretty sure I would have failed the 10th rep, so I re-racked the bar. NEX TIME.

Front Squat: 330 lb (Paused, No Belt 3RM)


Overhead Press: 230 lb x 4 (4RM)

Pretty tough! Shaky last rep, but I stuck with it and locked it out.

Pretty happy with this PR. OHP PRs are rare to come by these days.

Low Bar Squat: 500 lb x 3 (3RM)

3 reps with 500 lb FINALLY! I attempted 3 reps many times with 500 lb, but missed on the 3rd rep in the past.

Prior to this, I attempted a 555.5 lb squat to, but missed. Hit the uprights while walking back, and the bar didn't seem to sit in the right position during the lift.


Got my CPF record certificates in the mail this past week. They look a lot better than an Excel spreadsheet!

Stuff You Should Read

  1. Powerbuilding: You Don't Grow In The Gym by Stan "Rhino" Efferding
  2. Assessments are Not Complicated by Alexander Cortes
  3. Wisdom from a Master (Notes From A Training Session With Dan Green) by Brian Hill

I got a PR for the most number of PRs set in a week at 9!

Previous best was 6 PRs in a week.

PRs This Past Week

Bench Press: 300 lb x 7 (Reverse Grip)

Wanted 8 reps for an 8 rep max, but after bench pressing 320 lb for 5 sets of 3 reps, then 300 lb for 5 reps, 7 reps was all I could muster. I guess this is a 7 rep max!

Front Squat: 340 lb x 1 (Paused + No Belt PR)

It was easy, but I just wanted to fill in the empty box in my PR table.

Front Squat: 330 lb x 5 (5RM)

Testing out a wider stance for front squats. Can't get as much depth as my previously narrower stance, but I'm feeling more bounce out of my adductors, so it's easier coming up from the bottom.

This could lead to more PRs.

Squat: 440 lb x 8 (8 rep max)

Decided to try squatting 440x8 after watching Natalya Kuzmina (member of the Kazakhstan powerlifting team who competes at 84 Kg) squat 200 Kg (about 440 lb) for 8 reps.

So I guess I'm strong as a girl now.

Also, the opening theme from Conan The Barbarian (1982 version with Arnold) gets me PUMPED.

Bench Press: 335 lb x 5 (Reverse Grip)

+5 lb 5 rep max

Theme song from Conan the Destroyer gets me pumped, but not as pumped as Conan the Barbarian (1982).

REGULAR GRIP Bench Press: 350 lb x 1 (1 rep max by 10 lb!)

350 lb regular grip seems puny compared to my 395 lb reverse grip 1RM lol

Had to wear neoprene pads because I'm not used to the bar pressure on my palms yet :/

Front Squat: 405 lb x 1 (1RM)

LMAO4PLATE milestone, and +5 lb PR with no knee wraps.

Wore the Three Wolf Moon shirt though.

Pretty sure I would have missed this rep without harnessing it's mystical, performance enhancing powers.)

Deadlift: 500 lb x 1 (No Belt, Hook Grip)

1 rep max with no belt. Time to start tracking no belt deadlift PRs.

Tip: Track a variety of different exercises and variations of the same exercise through many rep ranges, that way there's more opportunities to hit PRs all the time and post something on 70's Big every PR Friday.

Deadlift: 500 lb x 5 (5RM with straps and +40 lb PR!)

Missed at 550 lb THREE times (first two times used hook grip, third time used straps, but gassed out).

This pissed me off so I went for a 5 rep max with 500. Had to re-adjust the straps mid set because it wasn't tight enough.

Other Stuff

Roundhouse Kicks

"I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times."

- Bruce Lee

Dammit I did it wrong...I practiced TWO kicks.

This is going to double my workload now :/

I think my kicks are coming along.

Stuff You Should Read

  1. Pillars Of The Squat by Daniel Green
  2. The Valsalva & Stroke by Jonathon M Sullivan MD, PhD, SSC, FACEP

This past week has been relatively crappy kind of OK as far as training goes.

Monday was alright. Did all my prescribed sets for squats. I added reverse banded bench press to my "over warm up" at 410 lb before moving onto the work sets. Didn't get 5x5 on the bench press though (only 3 sets of 5).

Tuesday I did a neck workout prior to hitting up Mongolian (AKA STRONGolian) Grill. I like to train before going out to eat, so whatever I am eating becomes my post workout meal:

Mongolian Grill

Couldn't hit my usual over warm up front squat at 370 lb for whatever reason on Wednesday, and on Friday my entire body was achey and tired, and I didn't complete my typical warm up sets!

I was thinking about taking the weekend off just to rest, but figured that I might be able to hit a high bar squat PR on Saturday because I didn't do my full training session the day before. Turns out I was right!

High Bar Squat: 505 lb

I tried squatting this weight last week and missed, and I got pinned on the first attempt at 505 this Saturday.

I think I didn't get it the first time because I tried to cut the rep short and didn't plow down all the way to the bottom to bounce out of the hole, or I wasn't prepared to fight during the sticking point when coming up.

In any case, the second time I made sure to bury the squat and bounce out of the bottom, and mentally prepared myself for a potentially ugly-ass grinder.

Well, I got it!

This is a +5 lb PR.

I find that high bar squats are easier than low bar squat up to around 90-95% of 1RM. After that, it feels SIGNIFICANTLY harder than low bar squats because there's a certain sticking point that's difficult to overcome when ascending out of the hole.

Ab Wheel Rollouts x 6

I always feel like I'm one of the Transformers while doing these...transforming into some sort of crappy 1 wheeled, 2 legged vehicle or something.

I've been doing these along with dragon flags and L-sit chin ups at the beginning of my workout (during "warm up") just to get it out of the way. Lately, my core has been feeling a little harder. Very nice.

Anyway, check this out:

Stuff You Should Read

  1. How We Train by Glenn Pendlay
  2. Grippaldi the Great: How to Train the Overhead Press by Marty Gallagher

Everything aches and is moving slow today.

Dragon Flags

  • 5

Foam Rolling

Ab Wheel

  • 6

Band Pull Aparts

Shoulder Dislocations

  • 10

L-Sit Chin Ups

With Fatgripz.

  • Body weight (~200 lb): 6

Breathing Paused Low Bar Squat

  • 45 lb: 10
  • 140 lb: 10
  • 230 lb: 5
  • 320 lb: 3

Paused Low Bar Squat

Belted up at 460 lb.

  • 410 lb: 1
  • 460 lb: 1

Low Bar Squat

  • 500 lb: 1
    • Felt slow.

Low Bar Squat - Reverse Bands

  • 550 lb: X
    • Black bands. About 80 lb of assistance at the bottom, so the weight throughout the entire range of motion is roughly 470-550 lb.
    • Controlled negative rep.
    • Everything aches today. Gonna stop squatting for now.

Face Pulls

  • 70 lb: 12
  • 90 lb: 10

Reverse Grip Bench Press

Paused until work sets.

  • 45 lb: 10
  • 140 lb: 5
  • 230 lb: 3
  • 280 lb: 1
  • 330 lb: 1
    • Slow grind! I think I need more recovery. Going to stop for now.

I get this question asked a lot, so instead of re-typing my answer every time someone asks, I'm just going to answer it here and copy-and-paste my answer (or send them the link to this post) the next time I'm asked.

Man, should have done this earlier! Would have saved me a lot of time!


Why do you do reverse grip bench presses instead of regular bench presses like a normal person?


I started doing reverse grip bench presses because a regular grip was causing me pain.

First it was shoulder pain that radiated down both of my arms from regular bench presses.

Shoulder Pain

Even this magical bright light couldn't cure my shoulder pain

It was probably shoulder impingement. As for grip width, my pinkies were on the bar markings so it wasn't very wide.

Forearm PainI narrowed my grip, tucked in my elbows and tried "bending the bar". This more or less fixed the shoulder pain problem, but it ended up giving me pain in my forearms (forearm splints maybe?). I felt the forearm pain in what seems to be in between the bones of the forearms, the ulna and radius.

I think the forearm pain from bench presses was from tucking the elbows in while gripping the bar hard on the descent. Gripping the bar with an overhand grip naturally makes the elbows flare out a bit. Forcing the elbows in to the sides of the body naturally makes the hand want to rotate (ie. supination). So trying to do both at the same time (tuck in elbows while keeping a tight grip with hands aligned with the bar), the strain is going to go somewhere, and that went to my forearms.

At lighter loads, there wasn't much pain, but as soon as the weight went up, the pain in both my shoulders and/or forearms would shut everything down and I would instantly lose my strength. I frequently missed reps because of pain.

With a regular grip (both pinkies on the bar and a more narrower hand placement), the best I could do was 340 lb. That was like an obstacle that I couldn't overcome because the pain held me back.

I have seen Jamie Lewis from ChAoS & PAIN use the reverse grip bench press (here's an article he wrote on the RGBP btw), and recall reading that he did this because of shoulder issues he had himself (or something like that).

Well, figured I might as well give it a shot because a regular bench press was going nowhere.

I switched over to the reverse grip bench press on October 1, 2012.

At first benching with a backward grip was awkward. Unracking was strange, and I wasn't accustomed to the pressure of the bar on my palms while holding the bar backwards. The first time doing it, I only got up to LMAO2PLATE (230 lb) for 2 reps. And I still experienced a bit of pain.

I stuck with it though.

It took me about 3 weeks to really get the hang of the reverse grip bench press. I ended up benching 330 lb (10 lb away from my max) in just 3 weeks of starting the reverse grip.

And it has been steadily increasing since. At the time of writing this, my 1RM is 390 lb.

Since I don't experience pain with the reverse grip, I can bench frequently (currently twice a week) and heavily, and have been making gainz since.

If you want to see some more videos of me doing the reverse grip bench press, just go here.

UPDATE: If you want to learn how to perform the reverse grip bench press, read this article I wrote for T-Nation.

Differences Between A Regular Bench Press And The Reverse Grip Bench Press

Here's a few bullet points describing some of the things that are different with the reverse grip bench press:

  • Bar touches lower on body. For me, it's below the sternum.
  • Cannot flare out the elbows (at least not much). So if the bar drifts towards the head, it's difficult to maintain/regain control because you can't flare the elbows out and get the elbows under the bar.
  • Elbows naturally tuck in (ie move towards the side of the body), so I didn't need to force myself to tuck in the elbows. I do find that if I try to force my elbows to touch the side of my body, I can feel the contraction in my lats.
  • Need to focus on pushing "down" or "out" towards my abdomen or feet.
  • Bar cannot be allowed to drift backwards (towards the head) or else you'll lose control of the bar.
  • Grip on the bar can range from 100% supinated (so that the palms are inline with the bar) to something that's almost a parallel grip (actually more like a V-grip). I find that if I'm struggling with a weight during the reverse grip (either 1RM or the last few reps of a multi-rep set), my palms will start to rotate towards each other, probably as a result of trying to flare my elbows out.
  • It's a little more difficult to control the bar, so this should be done inside of a power rack with safeties to save your life in case the bar decides to move above your neck.

MRW When I See Someone Else Do The Reverse Grip Bench Press

Every so often I see a video of someone doing the reverse grip bench press. I like to think that I had some part in inspiring them to bench press with a backwards grip, but I'm not really sure.

In any case, here's my reaction(s):

Chow Yun Fat Thumbs Up

Jackie Chan Thumbs Up

Bruce Lee Thumbs Up


So if you're experiencing shoulder pain and/or forearm pain from regular grip bench presses, try out the reverse grip. It allowed me to bench heavy twice a week without going through the pain I had with a conventional grip, and allowed me to break through a plateau once limited by pain.

The reverse grip bench press works for me, works for other people I've come across online, and it could work for you too.