What Variations Are There?
The most common questions I receive besides how short I am and how I stay motivated over the last decade of creating content is, “What's the best accessory to grow my bench?”
First lets cover the basics. If you want to improve anything, we need to practice that skill. Frequency in the bench (like any lift) is a key. Practicing the lift and getting volume spread out weekly is key for strength and hypertrophy. The bench is especially easy to train higher volumes and recovery from.
That being said we don't always want to train purely the competition lift. Choosing some variations of the main lift allows us to not only continue progress weekly adding volume or load but they also allow us to dial in and focus on some weaknesses. Sometimes choosing a variation can be for a very specific reason but often can be for a 4-12 week block simply for fun or to progress. Many factors go into choosing a variation-
What style bench we use for competition e.g. Wide grip with a nice arch, close grip with a flatter back or any combination of it.
I bench with a wider grip and a moderate arch, one of my favorites personally is a close grip or a close grip with feet up. This allows me to work a greater range of motion, gives my back break while having my feet up and also forces me to use less overall weight being a more difficult variation making it self limiting.
Whatever the variation, you choose to try to stick with it for a minimum of 4 weeks and make some progress there. Oftentimes the further out from a test or competition the more diverse and frequent our variations can be. The closer to a competition it is recommended to get more practice with our main style of lift and perhaps 1 variation a week depending on overall frequency of a lift. If you only perform a lift 1-2x a week it is also very possible to do the competition lift on both and vary the intensity and rep schemes to make progress.
Overall these are just some guidelines that can give a better idea how to use variations. Doing a few blocks of the Infinite off season with variations until progression slows is one of my favorite ways to program. Here's a quick list of good variations for you to try.
- Close grip
- Ultra wide grip
- Bench vs chains
- Bench vs bands
- Spoto press
- Dead stop bench
- Pin press
Since you're into the bench and all...check these articles out(links below).