At this point in CrossFit, most gyms will have a strength training element within the hour’s training, before doing the WOD. Typically, gyms focus on the Squat, Clean & Jerk, Push Press, Snatch, or Deadlift.
It is not typical to see many CrossFit gyms program Bench Press, either in the strength portion of the workout or in the WOD itself. This is likely part of a precedent set by the first few years of CrossFit demonizing anything that looked like bodybuilding.
While no one currently has a problem with the Bench Press, it’s still not a common lift in the CrossFit box.
I want to see this change, as bench pressing has the potential to build stronger overhead lifts and more functional shoulders.
The downfall of the current training style
The current CrossFit training style tends to favour going overhead both with pulling and pressing. This is great because it has got many people to increase their overhead mobility, which was sorely needed.
The shoulders, however, need to be trained in “frontal” pulling and pressing, to make sure that the muscles surrounding the shoulder, the chest, lats, and upper back are healthy and strong like the delts and triceps are.
Frontal pulling and pressing that is commonly seen in CrossFit are movements like the Push-Up, and the Ring Row. However, those are typically seen as Scaled options for Pull-Ups and Handstand Push-Ups, so once someone gets to the point where they can do the RX version, they stop doing these frontal pulling and pressing movements.
Because of this, the average CrossFit athlete tends to have weak chest and lats, which can be a spell for injury down the road.
How to Implement Bench Press in Your Box
The Bench Press can be one of the best ways to fix a weak chest and lats and, if done correctly, will carry over to your overhead lifts by creating a more stable shoulder.
If you’ve never or rarely implement the Bench Press, then try a variation of the Texas Method: one day per week for 8 weeks, try a progression where you do 5 sets of 5 reps at about 70% of your 1 rep max, or a “light to moderate weight” which should feel easy for every set.
Then each week add 2.5-5kg, and by the end of the 8 weeks, everyone will be setting PR’s! If your gym doesn’t have benches, then sub them out for the Floor Press and you’ll get similar benefits.
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If you want to get the most out of your time, then between sets of bench press, do a set of 8-12 heavy dumbbell or barbell rows. This will help you build a strong back along with the strong chest!
CrossFit Bench Press Workout
PUMP SESH TRIPLET
3 Rounds for Time:
- 2/1 Legless Rope Climbs (18 ft)
- 15 Dumbbell Bench Presses (2×70/50 lb)
- 9 Dumbbell Thrusters (2×70/50 lb)
Time Cap: 8 minutes
3 Rounds for Time:
- 2/1 Rope Climbs (15 ft)
- 15 Dumbbell Bench Presses (2×40/25 lb)
- 9 Dumbbell Thrusters (2×40/25 lb)
Pump Sesh Triplet was the 4th of 8 total WODs for the 2019-2020 Wodapalooza Miami Sanctional competition.
Want to take your Bench Press to the next level? Check out the “Moose Method” 6 Week Bench Program that I co-wrote with JUCO Football player, Sam Neely. We used this program to take him from a 168kg/370lb Bench Press to a 183kg/405lbs Bench Press in 6 weeks.
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- Bench Pressing: Photo courtesy of CrossFit Inc.