Group 2 Trouble at the Finish

So you can blast the weight off the chest, but falter at lockout? I have solutions for you as well. In both of these cases, you’ll be overloading the top of the bench-press movement.

Board presses

Like the speed bench, the board press is a powerlifting staple. Bench-press boards are two-by-four or two-by-six planks that are nailed, screwed, or taped together and placed on your chest to shorten the bench-press range of motion, so you’re doing only the upper half of the lift. Once the boards are placed on your chest (and usually held there by a lifting partner), you bring the bar down to touch the boards, and then press it back up.

Board press

Board presses do a couple of things for a poor lockout. First, they allow you to use more weight than normal bench-press sets do. This overloads the movement and trains the nervous system to handle more weight during full-range efforts. They also help you practice pressing through your deficient range of motion. The combination is deadly.

Board presses are a great main bench-press exercise, but they’re also great as a first-level assistance exercises, meaning they’re done immediately after finishing all of your normal bench-press sets.

I’ve found three-board two-by-fours or two-by-sixes stacked on one another to be the most productive. They seem to have the best carryover to full-range bench pressing. They also offer have programming versatility, since they work well with heavy sets of 1-5 reps, but are equally great for sets of 5-10 reps.

Let’s say your main, full-range bench-press sets are heavy sets of 3 reps, and you’re using board presses as your first-assistance exercise. In this case, do 3-5 sets of 5-10 reps.