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What's the Best Way to Increase Your Bench Press

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What’s the Best Way to Increase Your Bench Press

Arnold and Franco had some of the best chests in bodybuilding and they were regular advocates of doing the bench press. Head into practically any gym, anywhere in the world, and you’ll see that bench pressing is the most popular exercise. And it’s easy to see why! After all, bench pressing can make your chest, shoulders, and arms incredibly toned. The question that all people in the gym what to know is, “What’s the Best Way to Increase Your Bench Press?” There are two common training methodologies to increase your bench press: linear and non-linear periodization. Periodization training was introduced in the 1940’s, and it is basically a set training format that involves different modalities of resistance training, organized within a set or determined time frame. The concept of periodization was first developed by Dr. Thomas Delorme who was an army physician working with physical therapy patients. During this time he formulated the progression of their therapy routines and exercises, and the need to gradually increase the resistance on particular muscle groups. Periodization is systematically changing the weight used and reps completed per set. There are two types of periodization programs: linear and non-linear programs.

To get right to
 the point, linear periodization (LP) starts with a training volume that is
 high while using lighter loads, and as training progresses through specific mesocycles, training volume decreases while training
 loads increase.
 With nonlinear periodization (NLP) you change the volume and weight loads from day to day, usually in an undulating pattern. Charles Poliquin
 was one of the first to propose this method of training.

B17199CD-B65A-5CA0-77F3-7F1865348102_shutterstock_53925571.jpgThe programs

Sample 3 Week Whole Body Linear and Non-Linear Program :

Mon – Upper Body

Tues – Lower Body

Wed – Off

Thurs – Upper Body

Fri – Lower Body

Linear periodization (LP)

week 1 – 3 sets x 12-15 reps

Week 2 – 3 sets x 8-10 reps

Week 3 – 3 sets x 4-5 reps

Nonlinear periodization (NLP)

Week 1 – Mon/Tues: 3×12-15; Thurs/Fri: 3×8-10

Week 2 – Mon/Tues: 4×4-5; Thurs/Fri: 3×12-15

Week 3 – Mon/Tues: 3×8-10; Thurs/Fri: 4×4-5

Week 4 – recovery week as detailed above

Another example of a 12 Week Linear and Non-Linear Periodization Program

Chest ExerciseAccording to the newest research in Journal of Sports in Medicine, it seems like after 12 weeks, both programs work equally effective. To determine changes in maximal strength between two different resistance training progression models, linear and non-linear periodization, over a 12-week resistance training program in sub-elite adolescent rugby union players. Following baseline assessments, participants were randomized to either LP linear periodization or non-linear periodization programs; another group served as a control group. Participants were 26 sub-elite adolescent rugby union players who were assessed at baseline and after 12 weeks. Outcomes included 5 repetition maximum (RM) box squat and bench press, height, body weight, skeletal muscle mass, percentage body fat and maturation status. Participants were instructed to incrementally increase the load on the barbell to achieve this daily maxload by commencement of the third set. Sets one and two of each core strength exercise during each training session were considered warm up sets and participants were instructed to use 60–70% of the daily max load on the first set, and 70–80% on the second set. For the third and all subsequent sets participants used 100% of the daily max load. At the end of 12 weeks, participants in both the linear and non-linear periodization groups significantly increased their squat and bench press strength from baseline to 12 weeks. There were no significant differences between groups for squat and bench press increases after 12 weeks. If you take a closer look at the data, it is yet obvious that despite the lack of significant differences for strength gains, the non-linear periodization scheme yielded greater increases in box squat, while the linear scheme produced greater increases in bench press performance. A more significant difference was observed for the total skeletal muscle mass which increased significantly only in the linear periodization group. An observation that appears to suggest that an non-linear periodization scheme as it was used in the study at hand should not be recommended as an adjunct to sport-specific training if increases in lean mass are the intended training outcome. At the end of 12 weeks, Twelve weeks of linear and non-linear periodization resistance training are both effective at increasing maximal lower and upper body strength in adolescent rugby athletes, but the linear program tended to yield higher increases in lean muscle mass and bench press strength.
Poliquin, C., Natl Strength Cond Assoc., 10: 34–39, 1988. 2. Simão R., et al, J Strength Cond Res., 2012 May;26(5):1389-95.
Harries SK, Lubans DR, Callister R. Comparison of resistance training progression models on maximal strength in sub-elite adolescent rugby unionred only in the manipulation of volume and intensity for the back squat and bench press, not for the other exercises (Harries. 2015).


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