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YES! Strongmen Should Bench Press

One of the biggest most misconstrued notions in how to train for Strongman is that you shouldn’t or don’t need to Bench Press. I fell prey to this disinformation when i started and for years my press sucked. I relied on a jerk technique but if that failed I Didn’t have the raw strength needed. As soon as I started incorporating more bench pressing and  horizontal pressing into my routine my Pressing became a strong point. You can only rely on leg drive and technique so much in strongman as the press is not always the first event and your legs will be fatigued as well as the implements not being standard your perfect technique you practiced on your own implements at home with fresh legs can fail you. You will wish you had pure pressing power. This is why I recommend to train the strict standing press so much but you can only load so much weight in that lift. This is why you should bench if you want to have a monster press.


Lets take a second to think how this misinformation got started. From my understanding it comes from how prevalent the bench press is in lifting and how little amount of people did any sort of overhead pressing. People would get into strongman and someone would say “bench press isn’t that important you need to focus on Overhead Pressing” which ends up being passed down the line as “you shouldn’t bench press ever only do overhead pressing”. This is the only way I can possibly Imagine this bad advice got started.  Now lets get into the myth that high level strongman DON’T bench press

Looks like they bench to me! Also while they may not do a standard bench press all do some form of horizontal pressing. It may be close grip, incline, dumbbell, floor press, benching with a log, or some combintion of those but guess what that is still bench pressing.

Implementing the bench press into your program

So what are we trying to accomplish by putting a bench press variation into our programming to get us better at strongman?  To gain muscularity in our upper body by doing a compound movement and mostly to get our triceps stronger. so what type of bench pressing should we do? Here are some of my favorite 5 variations

  • Close grip bench
  • sling shot bench
  • incline dumbbel bench
  • Incline Log Press
  • Incline Barbell Bench

Those are just mine but what I prefer to do for the most carry over and hypertrophy. Now that we have an idea of what to do how should we implement it? We have to remember The Bench press is an assistance lift!!  Any lift that is not in a contest should not be a priority it is a tool to get you better at the contested lifts.  The goal is to not get better at benching the goal is to use benching to get better at strongman! I like to take a page from Brandon Lilly and the cube method here and use the bench press in the same way he uses the Overhead Press to make him better at bench pressing in reverse and implement it into a “bodybuilding” type day This should be a day where the focus is hypertrophy and to attack weak points and be strong all over because that is the goal right? This should be the easiest day of the week and not overly heavy, the key is volume.  I will outline a sample 3 weeks below

Week 1:

  • Close grip bench press 3×12-15 reps
  • Slingshot Bench 10% heavier 2×10
  • Incline Dumbbell Bench 5×10
  • Incline Dumbbell Row 5×10
  • Incline db flys 3×15
  • hammer curls/tricep press down super set 3×12
  • Slingshot Push ups 2xAMRAP

Week 2

  • Close grip bench press 3×10-12 reps
  • Slingshot Bench 10% heavier 2×8
  • Incline Dumbbell Bench 3×15
  • Incline Dummbell Row 3×15
  • Incline dumbbell fly 3×15
  • Hammer curls/tricep press down super set 3×12
  • Slingshot Push Ups 2xAMRAP

Week 3 

  • Close grip bench press 3×5-8 reps
  • Slingshot bench press 10% heavier 2×5
  • Incline Dumbbell Bench 2×20
  • Incline Dumbbell Row 2×20
  • Incline dumbbell fly 3×15
  • Hammer curls/tricep pushdowns super set 3×12
  • Slingshot Push ups 2xAMRAP

This is just an example to give you an idea it is not set in stone. Some may need less volume but I think this should give you an idea on how the Bench Press and its variations can take your pressing events to the next level!






From → Articles, Training

  1. Dominick permalink

    I tend to look into the past’s great pressers for inspiration, and I kept thinking of John Davis while reading this.

    John Davis was among the strongest pressers of his era; he owned the world record for the Press in the Heavyweight Division (90+ kg, the heaviest guys back then) from the late 40’s to early 50’s (his record got broken by Doug Hepburn, who happens to be the first man to bench 500 officially). He stood 5’9” and weighed around 225, yet he once pressed as much as 350 in competition. He was a big proponent of the bench press, probably was the first weightlifter to do that much supine pressing (as it was often called back then).

    When preparing for Helsinki, he would train four times a week, working up to 8 or 10 doubles at 300 lbs in the Press, and later (after snatches or cleans) bench pressing 330 for 5 sets of 3 (thus he benched about his max press for reps as an assistance lift). That was some monstrous volume, but he had years of heavy lifting under his belt.

  2. Cameron permalink

    When benching for strongman, would you recommend using leg drive and a slight arch like a powerlifter would? Or do you prefer to make it more of a pure upper body lift?

    • I think it’s best to learn how to do a movement as efficient as possible so using leg drive, etc should be learned but there is a benefit to feet up or floor press bench, etc as well

  3. Geoff permalink

    I have been working this Bench program for a few weeks as a change. I have been following your training log for workout ideas. I had noticed you do not train the Barbell Flat Bench, is that because of your bicep injury, or some other reason? I had never spent much time on Barbell Incline Bench.

    • Hey Geoff
      I am coming off a bicep injury as I am sure you know the reason for incline work at the moment is to make the movement harder without using more weight so less strain on my repaired bicep while it continues to gain strength

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  1. 5 Exercises To Increase Your Overhead Press | Starting Strongman

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