de-bench pressing

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I skipped bench press today.

We usually "bench" as the first exercise in our Tuesday workouts. But not today. I was short on time. I really didn't feel like benching, so I didn't.

At this point you  may be wondering why in the world I'm usually benching on Tuesdays. Everyone who knows anything about weight training knows that Monday, Wednesday, and Friday are practically a National Bench Press Holiday in gyms across America. Yet I recently reached 375 pounds by bench pressing only on Tuesdays. Searching "raw bench press" proves that to be a record in some states for the 198 pound division.

But much like you, I just don't care about bench press records.

Maybe I'd be more excited about benching if spotters weren't allowed. The penalty of missing a rep would definitely rekindle my interest in benching. Hmmm.

It's not that bench press is ineffective or worthless. It's overrated, for sure, but one of the best upper body exercises. Benching just doesn't have the feel of a massive dead lift, where hips and knees flex to pull 2 or 3 times your body weight off the ground, the torso is tensed in a rigid heap, heels are driven right through the floor, and arms damn near pulled right out of the shoulder socket.

So with limited time and energy, I did a bunch of heavy single leg split squats before proceeding to set a new p.r. in a 5-rep dead lift. I also skipped arms and abs, and still counted it as a workout.

No bench. As opposed to all the useless pressing I put myself through 10 or 15 years ago. Bench, incline bench, dumbbell bench, decline dumbbell bench, and then flys and pec deck, on and on, not wanting to miss anything for fear that the little strength and size I possessed would wither. Cutting back to bench pressing on Tuesday and overhead shoulder pressing on Saturday has only made me terribly stronger, with healthier shoulders, and with more time to have a life.

Guys who ask me about training often display a blank stare when I tell them to simply pick one heavy horizontal pressing exercise and one heavy vertical pressing exercise and do 3 to 5 work sets of each of them once per week. They walk away when I switch the subject and ask what they're doing to train their legs.

Sorry bench press. Maybe I'll see you again next week. But today I barely noticed you were gone.

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