Whether we like to admit it or not, we all love to ego lift a little bit. It is that male bravado and competitive nature which makes us men want to be stronger, faster and better than our fellow lifters. To help you get the upper hand on your training partner, here is a little secret to help you achieve an increase of up to 10% on your bench press.

You may be thinking “Yeah Right”, but according to a study published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine by researchers from the University of Rome, experienced lifters were able to increase the amount they benched in just a few weeks by simple raising the bar a slight bit faster than usual and lowering it a little bit more slowly than usual.


The study split 20 men who were in their forties and who had been training on average for 18-20 years into 2 groups. The first group continued to train as they were used to moving the weights up and down at the pace they found most comfortable, or at a preferred speed (SPS) while the second group performed the bench press at a fixed speed which was between 80-100% of their maximal speed (FPS).

In the table below, you will note that the concentric (or upward), movement of the experimental group took 0.8 seconds to complete while the average of the control group was 1.3 seconds. The eccentric (or downward) movement of the experimental group was 2 seconds while the control group was 1.5 seconds.

Each group performed the exercise twice per week with a weight which was equivalent to 55% of their 1 rep max (1RM) and rested for 2 minutes between sets. The experimental group performed as many sets as possible but were stopped when they were only able to lift at 80% of their maximal speed and the control group trained until exhaustion.


After just three weeks of training the researchers noted that the maximal strength of the control group remained unchanged while the experimental group had increased their maximal strength by an average of 10.2%. The maximal speed of the concentric movement of the lift had also increased more in the experimental group than in the control group.

The researchers suspect that the reason for the increase in strength and speed of the lift is because of an enhanced electrical impulses being sent from the nervous system to the muscle tissue. Because of this, more muscle fibers were activated effectively and therefore saw more overall development.


Because of the increased speed of the execution of the exercise, a greater muscle fiber recruitment was experienced during the whole period. According to the researchers, this information is an excellent guideline to work out the optimal training tempo and training protocol for strength athletes.


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