Ok, before you dismiss this article by thinking “how on earth do plyo moves help with my bench?”, let me explain. The first thing we need to consider is exactly what plyo metric moves are and what they are used for.

Plyometric exercises make use of quick explosive movements which use a pre-stretch or counter movement that involves the stretch shortening cycle, or SSC. For upper body, especially chest, plyo moves include the Smith Machine Bench Throw, Superman Push Ups, Alternating One Hand Push Ups, Side To Side Ball Push Ups, Partner Assisted Bench Medicine Ball Throws, Spiderman Push Ups and the list goes on and on. Today however, we are going to concentrate on our top 3 moves which are going to help you increase your lift on the bench press.

Because the bench press makes use of an eccentric movement, or pre-stretch, followed by a concentric, or explosive, movement and is supported by stretch shortening cycle, it becomes easy to see how plyometric moves will help you to improve on your bench press. By increasing explosive power, in this case the way you explode the bar off of your chest, the less likely it becomes that you will hit a sticking point within the concentric movement. These 3 plyo moves are designed to help with the explosive movement which focuses on the chest and supporting muscles groups.


BENCH MEDICINE BALL THROWS (WITH PARTNER)

Lie flat on your back on the ground with your partner standing on a box roughly 30 centimetres behind your head and holding a 5 to 10kg medicine ball in his/her hands. Lie with your arms fully outstretched in a locked position and have your partner drop the ball straight down towards your chest.

As the ball reaches your hands, guide it down towards your chest in a flowing movement (don’t try and decelerate the ball too much). As the ball reaches your chest, explode it upward as hard as your can in order to throw the ball as high as possible. Have your partner catch it and repeat the exercise. Perform 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps.



Remember, when performing plyo exercises, it is essential to rest enough between sets in order to perform these moves to the best of your ability. The better and stronger you get at these, the move weight you will be able to add to your bench press bar.




SMITH MACHINE BENCH THROWS

In order to perform a smith machine bench throw, load between 30-40% of your 1 rep max (1RM) and perform a bench press with a controlled eccentric movement. As the bar touches your chest, explode the weight upward throughout the movement and as you reach full extension, let go of the bar and let it leave your hands. Catch the bar as it comes back down and repeat the movement. Perform 3-4 sets of 5-8 reps.


UPPER BODY DEPTH JUMPS

To perform this move, start in a wide push up position with your elevated on two boxes placed on either side of your body. Drop your hands off of the box and land with your arms in a ¼ – ½ push up position. From here, explode your body upwards and land with your hands back on the boxes.

Try to keep your contact with the ground to an absolute minimum. Perform 3-4 sets or 6-10 reps. This is a difficult exercise so start with low boxes and work your way up as high as possible.



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