“The man on top of the mountain did not fall there” – Vince Lombardi
When we see the best of the best compete, they seem to make it look effortless. So effortless, they attract terms like “naturally talented” or “gifted.” But this couldn’t be farther from the truth. As Vince Lombardi writes, they “did not fall there” by chance. They did something, very specific. They have worked harder than us.Period.It’s not because they were born with it, or because they received it by chance. It’s because they earned it. They climbed the mountain – there’s only one way up. This isn’t demoralizing… it’s the opposite. It’s *empowering*. It’s proof that we too can climb if we so choose to put in the work. That discipline, over time, can get us there. It doesn’t matter where you started. And it doesn’t even matter where you are today. All that matters is where you want to go, and how hard you want to work for it!
TIP 1: THINK MOBILITY
Some lifters will go into a workout and start things off with a long stretch. Though I believe there are plenty of benefits of static stretching, it’s not as effective as other methods when workout prep is the name of the game. Stiff muscles and tight joints need mobility work from dynamic movements like jogging, lunges, leg swings, and arm circles to really reap the following benefits.
Mobility work elevates muscle temperature. Dynamic actions that involve mobility to the joints will make the muscles warmer and better prepared to resistance train.
They help the joints release synovial fluid. This lubricates the joints and makes it easier to achieve full ROM without any blockage or pain.
They don’t dull the nervous system. Since nothing dynamic is held for a long time, the nervous system doesn’t suffer.
TIP 2: STIMULATE YOUR NERVOUS SYSTEM
If you’re testing your 1RM for the bench, you don’t need to be skipping or doing jump squats to get ready. Different muscles have different clusters of motor units that activate them. We need to think about getting them ready to do hard work. Unloaded movement that simulates the action you’re about to perform is a good start. In the case of the bench press Opens a New Window. , start with plyo pushups (even where the hands are elevated if you’re not quite advanced enough to start from the floor).
Also remember that fatigue is the enemy. You’re about to use all your stores of energy to hit a new 1RM, so make sure everything you do before then is strictly focused on power and explosiveness—not hitting your limit. When you can’t explode anymore, it means your fast twitch muscle fibers are beginning to drop out of the lift. That’s bad news for your workout, so keep these reps low.
TIP 3: KEEP EXPLODING THROUGH YOUR RAMPING SETS
Now we’re at the part of the workout where we’re doing our ramping sets of the specific movement. The same rules apply as the above section. You don’t want to fatigue your muscles yet; you want to stimulate them. Therefore, the amount of reps you actually do with, for example, your 8-rep max, will be significantly lower than what you know you can actually do for 8 reps.
Granted, especially if you have a very high strength ceiling (someone who can bench press 365 lbs. versus someone who can bench press 195 lbs.), it may take a few more reps or even sets at the lightest weight available to get warm. This may even feel like part of the mobility-style warmup at first, but when the weight starts to work its way up, remember to focus on good technique and a solid explosion.
Next, don’t skimp on rest time. It takes longer for the nervous system to recover than a typically fatigued muscle.
Here’s my personal method when I prepare for my max bench press:
Warmup: dowel shoulder dislocates, arm circles, band pull aparts for scapular stability
Regular Pushups: 10 reps
Plyo Pushups: 2 sets of 6-8 reps
First ramping set
The ramping sets to my max will look something like this:
Empty bar x 10 reps, short rest
135 lbs. x 8 reps, short rest
185 lbs. x 6 reps, rest 90 seconds
205 lbs. x 5 reps, rest 2 min
225 lbs. x 4 reps, rest 2 min
245 lbs. x 3 reps, rest 2 min
265 lbs. x 3 reps, rest 3 min
275 lbs. x 2 reps, rest 3 min
295 lbs. x 2 reps, rest 3 min
305 lbs. x 1 rep, rest 3-4 min
315 lbs. x 1rep, rest 4 min
325 lbs. x 1 rep, rest 4 min
335 lbs. x 1 rep, rest 4 min
345 lbs. x 1 rep, rest 4 min
350 lbs. or 355 lbs. x 1 rep (which would match or break a PR)
The above is my own personal method. You’ll find as a lifter that everything doesn’t always have to make perfect sense when it comes to the particulars of getting in your “groove” and feeling strong and ready. Notice the 20-lb. incremental loading except for when I hit 275. For some reason, I need to press 275 in my lift for everything to feel right—even if the stagger is only 10 lbs. up and I’m clearly going higher. It’s just one of those things. Particulars aside, this is the formula to success in a 1RM attempt. Take your time, use these cues, and enjoy a new PR this week.
Cycle 5 Day 32
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Bench Press (5 rep max)
Take 15 minutes to establish a 5 rep max for bench press.
Metcon (AMRAP - Rounds and Reps)
12 Calorie Bike
6 Hang Power Clean and Push Jerk
Rx+ - 135/95
Rx - 115/75
Sc - as needed.