Group 1 Trouble off the Chest

Do you have a hard time getting the party started? In most cases, you can best address this by either picking up the pace with some dedicated speed work, or doing the absolute opposite and hanging out for a few interminable seconds at the bottom of the bench-press range of motion. Here’s how to program both.

Speed bench presses

The speed/dynamic-effort bench press is a powerlifting staple popularized decades ago by Louie Simmons of Westside Barbell. It’s a great means for increasing bench-pressing volume without overtraining, while also improving speed off the chest.


You’ll do this by progressing the speed bench press for one month, doing lots of sets of just a few reps with 50-60 percent of your 1-rep max. For example, if your max bench press is 275 pounds, you’ll use just 135 pounds during the first week.

Set it up like this:

  • Week 1: 6 sets of 3 reps at 50 percent 1RM
  • Week 2: 6 sets of 3 reps at 55 percent 1RM
  • Week 3: 8 sets of 3 reps at 55 percent 1RM
  • Week 4: 6 sets of 3 reps at 60 percent 1RM

Make the speed bench your main bench-pressing movement one day per week, or your first-level assistance exercise after your heavy bench presses. If you choose to use the speed bench as a main exercise, bench heavy on one other upper-body training day per week, keeping the loads between 80-85 percent.