The Ultimate Guide To Bench Press in CrossFit®

Written By Charleh Knighton  |  Bench Press 

The bench press is an awesome exercise that can be incredible for your upper-body strength, particularly your chest, shoulders, and triceps. It's not just about pushing a barbell off your chest; it's about unlocking your strength potential, enhancing your functional pressing abilities, and even refining other key CrossFit movements.

In this guide, we'll walk you through the ins and outs of the bench press, from perfecting your form to understanding its significance in your overall CrossFit performance.

We'll debunk common myths, address frequently asked questions, and provide tips to help you overcome plateaus. By the time you finish reading, you'll have a clear roadmap on how to effectively incorporate bench press into your CrossFit training.

Let hop in!

How to do bench press in CrossFit?

First things first, let's talk about how to do the bench press in CrossFit. The bench press has been a popular strength-training exercise for decades. While it may not be as frequently used in CrossFit as other movements, it can still be a valuable addition to your training program. In this article, we'll delve into the benefits of incorporating the bench press into your CrossFit routine and provide tips for proper technique, progressions, benchmarks, variations, and workouts.

Does CrossFit do bench press?

Now, you might be wondering if CrossFit actually includes the bench press. Well, while it may not be as prominent as other exercises, the bench press has made appearances in CrossFit workouts and competitions. For instance, in the 2017 CrossFit Open, they included dumbbell bench presses as part of the workout. Additionally, variations like the floor press and pin press have been utilized in CrossFit programming.

What are the benefits to adding bench press into my CrossFit training?

Let's talk about the benefits of adding the bench press to your CrossFit training. There are several advantages to doing so:

  1. Increased upper body strength: The bench press is a fantastic exercise for building strength in your chest, shoulders, and triceps. This strength can greatly improve your performance in other CrossFit movements.
  1. Improved pressing technique: The bench press can enhance your pressing technique, which can translate to improved performance in push-ups, handstand push-ups, and overhead presses. It's a valuable exercise that helps you develop the necessary skills for other demanding upper body movements.
  1. Mental and physical preparation: The bench press allows you to handle heavy weights in a low-repetition, high-weight horizontal pressing movement. This prepares you mentally and physically for other intense bouts of upper body force production.

Top 3 tips to bench press progressions

Now, if you're new to bench pressing, it's important to start with proper technique and gradually progress to heavier weights.

Here are a few tips for bench press progressions:

  1. Master the Technique: Before adding weight, familiarize yourself with the proper bench press technique. Focus on maintaining a tight core, squeezing your shoulder blades back against the bench, keeping your feet planted on the ground, and utilizing a full range of motion.
  2. Start Light: Begin with a weight that you can handle comfortably for several repetitions. As your strength improves, gradually increase the weight.
  3. Vary Rep Ranges: Changing up your rep ranges can help you progress in the bench press. For example, you can focus on low reps and heavy weights for strength or higher reps for endurance.
The Ultimate Guide To Bench Press in CrossFit

What is a good benchmark for bench press?

Tracking your progress and setting goals are important aspects of any training program. When it comes to the bench press, there are a few common benchmarks you can aim for:

  1. Bodyweight Bench Press: Many people strive to bench press their bodyweight. For instance, if you weigh 150 pounds, your goal would be to bench press 150 pounds.
  2. One Rep Max (1RM): Your 1RM is the maximum weight you can lift for a single repetition. Keeping track of your 1RM helps you monitor your progress over time.
  3. Rep Maxes: Rep maxes, such as your 3RM or 5RM, are useful for tracking progress and setting goals as well.

What variation of bench press is best?

Apart from the standard bench press, there are various exciting variations that you can incorporate into your CrossFit training to challenge your muscles and keep things interesting. There is no bench press this is particularly superior, but we would recommend mastering flat bench variations before moving on to other options.

Here are a few common variations:

  1. Close-Grip Bench Press: This variation involves bringing your hands closer together on the bar, typically shoulder-width apart or even closer. It places more emphasis on your triceps muscles and helps improve lockout strength.
  2. Incline Bench Press: Setting the bench at an incline, usually between 30-45 degrees, targets your upper chest muscles.
  3. Dumbbell Bench Press: Using dumbbells instead of a barbell allows for a greater range of motion and adds variety to your training.
  4. Flat Bench Press Variations: Before moving on to more extreme variations, such as pause bench, pin bench, tempo bench, or spoto bench, it's a good idea to explore specific variations to the flat bench.

CrossFit bench press workout you can do to build strength

To give you an idea of how to incorporate the bench press into your CrossFit workout, here's an example routine:

  1. Warm-up: Spend 10-15 minutes on mobility work and foam rolling, followed by 3-4 sets of push-ups and band pull-aparts.
  2. Bench Press Strength Work: Perform 5 sets of 5 reps at 75-85% of your 1RM, with 2-3 minutes of rest between sets.
  3. Metcon: Complete 3 rounds for time of 7 bench press reps (50-60% of 1RM) and 10 pull-ups.
  4. Cool-down: Allocate 10-15 minutes for stretching and mobility work, focusing on the chest, shoulders, and upper back.

In conclusion, the bench press can be a valuable addition to your CrossFit training. Approach it with curiosity and patience, just like any other compound movement. Incorporate progressions, benchmarks, and variations to build strength, prevent boredom, and challenge your muscles in new ways.

If you’re looking to improve your strength for CrossFit, then why not check out our supplementary program - WPx Strength. See you on the inside!

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