You know the drill: The more weight you lift for reps, the bigger and stronger your muscles will grow. Unfortunately, that's only true to a certain point. As you become a more advanced lifter, building additional size and strength gets increasingly more difficult.
It's not uncommon for weight room regulars to hit sticking points on major compound exercises like the bench press and military press. Since these basic movements use several muscle groups, the weak link preventing further progress might be one or even several of the muscles involved.
For example, the barbell bench press uses chest muscles along with the front deltoids and triceps to execute the movement. If one of the smaller muscle groups (deltoids or triceps) are lagging in development, certain parts of this exercise may become sticking points for you.
A great training technique for blasting through these barriers is performing partial reps in a power rack. By setting the pins in a power rack at the right level, you can work specifically on the sticking point of a certain lift. Here are some examples of how you can apply this strategy to build greater bench press strength:
Lockout -- To work the lockout position of the bench press, set the pins several inches below the point where your arms would be completely straight. Begin the exercise with the bar resting on the pins and forcefully push the bar to the lockout position. Hold the lockout for several seconds before lowering the bar back down to rest on the pins. Wait a few seconds and push the bar back up to lockout again. Since this movement involves a very limited range of motion, you should be able to use much more weight than you normal.
Midpoint - Set the pins approximately 10 inches below the lockout position. This will allow you to push the bar from mid-point to lockout. Push the bar from a resting position on the pins all the way up and hold the weight in the lockout position for 2 seconds before returning it to rest on the pins. Avoid bouncing the bar off the pins as this creates counterproductive momentum.
Starting Point -- Set the pins so the bar rests directly over your chest. Begin each rep from this point pushing the bar straight up to lockout. Lower the bar slowly back down to the pins and wait for a second before pushing the bar back up. This will help you develop more explosive power from the bottom position of the bench press.
Work all 3 of these partial rep schemes into your routine and take your bench to a higher level!
Natural Mr. Olympia