In lifting, much like with your nutrition, certain things come with an opportunity cost. With your eating, if you’re trying to fit calorie dense foods into your plan, you might be a little hungrier, due to the lack of protein and fiber in those Pop Tarts.

Similarly, if you have a lagging body part, or a lagging lift, the need to specialize in some exercises and movements will take precedence over others. In short, if you want to specialize to bring up a lagging body part or lift, something has to give.

And exactly “what” has to give depends on a few things:

  1. What you want to prioritize
  2. A coach’s input (if you have one)
  3. Your current abilities

So with that, let’s take three hypothetical situations, and see how they play out.


Scenario One: Powerlifting Bro

Let’s say there’s a 181lb powerlifter with a 520lb deadlift, a 430lb squat, but his bench is a paltry 255lbs. That puts his total at 1205. And while it certainly isn’t awful, that severe lack of bench press weight isn’t competitive in comparison to other lifters in the class. While the general message of “be better than your old self” is great, there are records, rankings, and competition involved. So you have to make a comparison to other people.

Therefore, if this lifter is smart, he will prioritize bench pressing and their accessories. If the coach is smart, they will help him find the appropriate amount of benching to do to increase the lift while interspersing the appropriate accessories into the program.

So far, the consensus is that to bench heavier, the lifter needs to bench more. More volume, which can easily come in the form of more frequency. While a template for THIS scenario is beyond the scope of the article—a technical lift for a powerlifting meet needs to take into account a metric ton of variables—there do exist templates out there, like Smolov Jr. If you aren’t familiar, original Smolov was a four day per week squatting program that ramped up intensity and volume throughout. Smolov Jr. is the same concept applied to the bench press.

Most lifters will bench once or twice a week, and rightfully so. The shoulders are prone to injury, and a lot of benching beats them to a pulp. In my opinion, a compromise to four days a week is to bench three times a week. Ideally, a day where you focus on speed and technique, a heavier day to work on your weak points, and a final day to practice the technical aspects of the sport itself—the cues, the arching, the racking, and so forth.

Your weak point day can consist of those tried and true bench variants you know and love. Board presses, floor presses, and pin presses are all good options here, along with some supplemental dumbbell work.

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