How Much Ya Bench? (Part III)

Of the 60+ athletes I have trained and the 100+ I have trained with, none have ever loved the bench press as much as Billy Blanco or Joe Igneri.

While the two guys had never trained with each other, they had a great deal in common.

  1. They benched alot 
  2. They knew they benched alot
  3. They told people they benched alot
  4. If someone was better than them at anything else, they would refer back to point #1.

Over the past year, "Blanco's Bench Press" has become sort of a legend at Advanced Training.

New members would join Advanced Training and ask "How much does that Blanco kid bench?"

Since Joe Igneri was also a "Bench Guy", he was getting tired of everybody else talking about "Blanco's Bench".

He wanted to be the guy everyone was talking about.

A few weeks ago, after Igneri hit 280lbs x 10, he decided to call Blanco out.


He actually called Blanco at college while we were still in the gym and let him know that he was coming for his title.

As any great competitor would do, Blanco decided to come home from Washington, DC, and have a little bench competition with Igneri.

The video below shows the first of what I believe will be many bench battles between these two.

If you throw in another guy who also benches over 335lbs, who is probably punching holes in his walls because he is not mentioned in this article, its going to make for an interesting summer.

"Challenge" 2011

For those of you who don't know, "CHALLENGE" is where one member of Advanced Training basically calls out another member, and challenges him to an act of strength, speed, endurance, and / or toughness.

The person who wins the challenge is awarded the title of "Challenge Holder".

Anyone who wants that title must challenge and beat the "Challenge Holder".

Like Rick Flair said, "To Be the Man, You Have to Beat the Man".

Our latest Challenge had Dennis Heedles (Challenger) challenge Dom Martelle (Challenge Holder) to a 315lb barbell hold for time.

Both Dennis and Dom have monster grips, so I knew it was going to be a battle.

The video below shows how it went down...

How Much Ya Bench? (Part II)

In How Much Ya Bench?, I made note of the fact that I was not happy with our form on the bench press.

I was so unhappy, that our Tuesday training session was entirely devoted to developing and improving our technique on the bench press.

To some of you, this probably sounds like the greatest training session ever.

To some of our guys, it actually was.

Rather than go through every detail of the session, I decided to provide you with the 5 biggest mistakes our guys were making.

After reading these top 5, see how many times you can spot them in the video below.

5 Common Bench Mistakes

1. Feet are not Planted on the Floor

Most people do not understand that the bench press is a full body movement. In order to get maximum gains, you need to drive your feet into the ground as you push the barbell away from your body. If you are watching a guy bench, and one of his feet come off the ground, the next thing you will see is the barbell plummeting towards his chest.
2. Rounded Shoulders

When performing the bench, you should always feel like you are pushing yourself away from the weight, as opposed to pushing the weight away from you. You could never do that with rounded shoulders. In fact, if your shoulders are rounded, you could never get all the benefits of incorporating your triceps and back muscles into the lift. 

In order to get the shoulders into the right position, force your shoulder blades back and down as you lay on the bench.

3. Loose Body Position

Before you even think about moving the weight off of the rack, your body better be in a position strong enough to accept it.
In fact, you should be so stable, that you should not budge if someone came over and kicked you while you were on the bench.

Correcting Points #1 and #2 will help improve your stability.

In addition, we like to squeeze the bar as tight as possible before we even begin the lift.

If you have ever trained with me, you definitely have heard me say "Break the Bar" about 1,000 per training session.

4. Pushing the weight off of the rack

Remember Point #2?

If you push the weight off the rack, you immediately lose the back and down shoulder position.

In order to correct this one, you need a good spotter.

They should actually move the barbell horizontally (across the plane of the floor), as opposed to vertically (towards the ceiling).

It should be moved just high enough so that it barely clears the rack as the barbell is moved towards your chest.

As the weight is being unracked, you (the person who is about to set a new personal bench record) should try to pull the barbell down to your chest as opposed to pushing it off of the rack.

Once you push it off the rack, your shoulder position is compromised, and there goes your personal record.

5. Flared Elbows

Before you read this one, please look at the arm angles on the guy in the picture at the top of the article.

His elbows are inside of his hands.

They are not flared out at 90 degree angles to his forearms.

Flaring out your elbows puts tremendous strain on your shoulder capsules. It also inhibits your triceps and back muscles from being fully involved in the lift.

If you don't want a small bench and bad shoulders, please, please , please keep your elbows inside your hands.

This is one of the hardest things for your body to learn, simply because you have benched with flared elbows for the last 100 years.

I struggle with this concept myself from time to time, especially when the weight starts getting heavy and I go into "Survival Mode".

The good news is that the more you work on repping with your elbows tucked, the more natural it will become.

Review Time

Now that you know what our mistakes are, take a look at our bench video again and see how many of them you can spot.

How Much Ya Bench?

Think before you answer that.

The person who asked is going to make full judgement of you based on the answer.

If it's too low, they will immediately lose all respect for you.
They may even point and laugh.

If its too high, they will assume you take steroids or that you are lying?

What's people's obsession with bench pressing anyway?

You never hear people ask about how much you Chaos Overhead Lunge.

In my opinion, people obsess over the bench because its what they know.

If you walk into any gym in the world, even Planet Fitness, there will be someone performing some form of bench press.

I mean, it's an exercise anyone can do .... right?


Performing the bench press is not as simple as laying down on a bench and moving a barbell up and down.

Unless you are satisfied with benching your body weight (if so, please immediately click the little "x" at the top right of the screen and never come on this website again), you cannot approach this lift like it is a simple movement.

It requires technique.

It requires discipline.

It requires practice.

I have enclosed two videos for your pleasure.

The first one is a short compilation of clips from one of our bench press sessions.

Unfortunately, we have yet to perfect this movement.

I will expand on this more in a my next post.

The second video is a popular skit from Saturday Night Live called How Much Ya Bench.

If you only care about benching, you should skip to about 3:15.

The funniest thing about this video is that it is really not too far from the truth.

If you stop by Atlas Gym on any Tuesday night, I am pretty sure you will here this same conversation from the guys in our program.


How much ya bench? by Shakey74

Advanced Training is Not For You

I have gotten so many emails about my last post,  Planet Fitness Is Not For Me, that I felt obliged to develop my own commercial for Advanced Training.

Here it is:

  • If you think being able to bench press your body weight means that you are strong, Advanced Training is Not for You
  • If your idea of a warm-up is grabbing a 5lb plate and swinging it around for 2 minutes, Advanced Training is Not for You
  • If you wear gloves or a weight belt, Advanced Training is Not for You
  • If you don't do deadlifts because you think they will hurt your back, Advanced Training is Not for You.
  • If the only "Bands" you own are rubber bands, Advanced Training is Definitely Not for You.
  • If you believe all your bench reps count (even if someone had to pull the last one off your chest), Advanced Training is Not for You.
  • If you continue to do another rep, after someone just pulled the last one off your chest, Advanced Training is Not for You.
  • If you are lifting just to "maintain your strength", Advanced Training is Not for You.
  • If chin-ups are not your favorite bicep exercise, Advanced Training is Not for You.
  • If cables curls are your favorite bicep exercise, and you do them from a 1/2 hour, preventing me from doing chin-ups, Advanced Training is Not for You.
  • If you only use the squat rack to perform barbell curls, Advanced Training is Not for You.
  • If you say things like "Back and Bi's", Advanced Training is Not for You.
  • If what you do in the gym is called "working out" and not "training", Advanced Training is Not for You.
  • If you use a Smith Machine, Advanced Training is Not for You.
  • If it doesn't make you sick to your stomach that someone else is stronger than you, Advanced Training is Not for You.
I hope you like the commercial.
If anything on here offended you....

Go to Planet Fitness