Develop and Maintain Explosive Upper-Body Power With the Bench Press

Now that the NFL lockout is officially over, teams are starting to build their rosters. For some undrafted free agents—like former Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich, who just signed with the New York Giants—staying near peak condition all spring and throughout most of the summer has been a priority.

And for any high school athlete, it's important to stay as close to peak condition as you can, especially if you're a backup looking to make a good impression when the head coach calls your number.

For Herzlich, Cam Newton and more than 200 NFL athletes who have spent part of their off-season at IMG Academies, staying conditioned has been a challenge. "The problem was, we didn't know when the end was going to be," says Jeff Dillman, head strength and conditioning coach at IMG. "We had to maintain their peaks."

One way Dillman was able to do that was by making sure that each athlete started his workout with a thorough Dynamic Warm-Up, lasting anywhere from 45 to 50 minutes. A specific max effort day was designated for heavy singles, and on dynamic days, the athletes would try and bench the bar as quickly as possible. "The biggest thing," says Dillman, "is keeping the explosive power."

Here's how to work a dynamic Bench day into your workout:

Bench Press

  • Select a weight that's 70 to 80 percent of your one rep max
  • Focus on moving the bar as fast as possible
  • Perform reps explosively

Sets/Reps: 10x3-5

"The difference between the high school athlete and a pro athlete is the high school athlete will move [the bar] slow, and the pro athlete will want to move it as fast as possible," says Dillman. "Try and move the bar at the speed of light."

The explosive upper body power you'll develop through the Bench Press will show up all over the field—from a defender laying a big hit on a ball carrier to creating separation from a blocker to a running back stiff-arming a tackle to gain a few extra yards.

Source:  IMG Academies


Brandon Guarneri Brandon Guarneri - Brandon Guarneri served as a Content Director for STACK Media. He oversaw production for STACK Magazine and created video content with athletes and brands for Prior to that, Brandon was a staff editor for Men's Fitness, where he covered sports training and performance nutrition. He's also w
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