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What are bench press boards? [Article]

Posted by Pascal Landshoeft

Mar 17, 2017 11:00:00 AM

What are bench press boards

What are bench press boards?

Bench press boards are gym equipment which are 1.5 inches to 6 inches thick to help to improve the performance of powerlifters by shortening the range of motion of the barbell bench press in training.

Bench press calculator

Boards for bench pressing ?!

You are researching the big bench pressers of the world and at some stage, you might come across the westside method which has been promoted by Louie Simmons and his successful westside gym. Another possibility would be that you browsed through several forums and threads and found comments about bench pressing with boards. YouTube might also be a source where you've first heard about boards. Still, it is very likely that you have never seen one in a gym, nevermind someone using one. So what is this all about?

Experienced lifters who move more than twice their bodyweight around on a regular basis to train face different challenges from beginning lifters. The recovery cycles are longer, the risk of injury is higher and the weak links of the deadlift, squat and bench press become the limiting factors of the moves rather than learning the movement patterns. Simply banging the classic lifts until the blood comes out of your ears and nose won't give you as much process as it used to do. Even though it still helps. In this environment powerlifters started to tinker with the strength curve of the lift and the range of motion. Boards are ideal for the latter.

Bench press board examples from rogue

Boards are used to influence the range of motion of the bench press

While chains and bands influence the strength curve boards are being used to limit the range of motion of the barbell bench press. At first someone will spot you on a near one repetition maximum attempt, ideally someone with experience around lifting. Every lifter has a sticking point in their bench press. The sticking point in the bench press is the part of the lift in which you considerably slow down and are most likely to fail the lift. Depending on where this is a board is chosen that limits the range of motion of the bench press to just below that point. The boards come in increments of 1.5 inches. The higher your sticking point the thicker the board will which you use. Some powerlifters also like to establish personal bests for each of these boards as variations of the bench press. 

Using boards will enable you to train harder for longer in the area that should give you the most benefit to improve your bench press. Once you limit the range of motion you are usually able to use bigger weights to address that weak part in your lift. If your one repetition maximum is 300 pounds you might be able to rep out three on a 4 board. This builds volume at higher loads without exposing you to too much risk of injury. In addition, it also helps to build confidence with bigger weights. Whenever you use boards take care that you either have a well-rounded plan or only train the weak part of the lift until it catches up with the entire movement. Otherwise, you will build imbalances if you only work with a three board for a year, for example.  


Bench press boards are gym equipment which is most useful for experienced lifters who train in a group or with a coach with the goal of maximizing the one repetition maximum on the bench press. They are also popular amongst shirted bench pressers to address the top third or "lockout" of the lift. 

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Topics: Lift stronger, Bench Press